At JCMS, we hear a lot of conflict over vegetation, such as:
- His tree overhangs my house (or yard) and it’s filling my gutters with leaves (or dropping rotten apples on my lawn).
- Their tree has gotten so big that it has cut off my view.
- I’m worried that those growing roots will damage my sewer line.
- My neighbor’s bushes are branching out over my driveway. Can I trim them?
Generally, you have the right to trim branches and roots up to your property line, as long as you don’t cause damage to the tree or trespass onto your neighbor’s property. Before you pick up your chain saw, though, here are some things to consider:
- You can forestall a lot of trouble by talking to your neighbor first. The owners may feel very strongly about mutilation of their majestic maple. Explain why you think the trimming is necessary, and how you plan to do it.
- If you hire a company to do the job, you will have to cover the cost, but if the tree or bush is on city property or a utility easement, you may be able to get them to trim it. If you talk to your neighbor first, she may be willing to split the cost with you.
- Check to see if the tree is protected because of its species, size or age.
- If a tree is diseased or in danger of falling, the local government may require the owner to remove the tree.
- If you damage the tree, you may be liable to the owner, and trees can be worth a lot of money in court.
- If plantings are close together so as to form a fence, they may be subject to height restrictions for fences.
If you are comfortable doing so, you can talk (politely and respectfully) to your neighbor. Maybe he/she isn’t aware that the trees or bushes are causing a problem. Some people may be very protective of their trees and shrubs. If your neighbor takes offense at what you say, back off – don’t escalate the situation. You can write a polite letter explaining why you want the plantings trimmed, and invite your neighbor to have some say in how this will be done. If the response is negative, consider trying mediation. Wherever you live in Jeffco, mediation can help.
JCMS offers FREE mediation to Jefferson County citizens and businesses. Mediation is a good way to discuss a dispute reasonably, with a neutral third party (a mediator) to facilitate the conversation. The mediators won’t tell you what to do, give legal advice, or say who is right or wrong, but they are trained to help people with disagreements to work together to find a resolution, instead of having a shouting match. Mediation is also quicker than court. For more information on mediation, go to our website at www.JeffcoMediation.com, or call us at 303.271.5060. Para el Espanol, 720-577-5826.