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If a tree in my yard reaches into my neighbors’ yard, who is responsible for trimming that part of the tree?

Ken Little

The city of Wilmington would not be involved in such a neighbor-to-neighbor situation, but Assistant City Attorney R. Lynn Coleman offered some guidelines on how the city would react if it was one of the parties.

Two scenarios are when a tree grows on private property but hangs over a sidewalk or street or other public property, or where a tree grows on public property, such as a street tree growing within the right of way of a street and hangs over into private property, Coleman says.

In the first situation, Coleman says the city would send a letter to the property owner asking that the tree be pruned to prevent any danger or damage to the public using the public property.

“If our request is not complied with, we might eventually trim the tree for safety reasons,” Coleman says.

In the second scenario, “We again request the property owner that borders the right of way where the tree is growing to remedy the situation, as we have a city ordinance that requires a property owner to be responsible for maintenance of everything between their property line and the street right of way,” Coleman says.

The city reserves the right “to take whatever maintenance actions we deem to be in the public’s safety interest or to prevent damage to public property so we may trim or remove any trees in the right of way that are problematic,” she says.

The city would bear responsibility for any damages to the private property for a tree that was not properly maintained, Coleman says.

Coleman recommends the reader contact a private attorney who specializes in real property law for further information on specific options.

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3 Responses to “ If a tree in my yard reaches into my neighbors’ yard, who is responsible for trimming that part of the tree?”

  1. On December 19, 2009 at 8:45 am Tom wrote:

    His question had nothing to do with the city. It was a question about a neighbor to neighbor issue.

    It is my understanding that if a neighbor’s tree reaches over your property, you are allowed to trim the branches on yourr property as you see fit (up to the neighbors property line).

  2. On December 19, 2009 at 9:33 am alexis wrote:

    your quote: Try again. There is no space between the property line and the street r/w — it is the same line.

  3. On December 19, 2009 at 8:29 pm Margaret wrote:

    I would recommend that the homeowner (who has a concern re: his neighbor’s tree) call his insurance agent. It’s my understanding that if a neighbor’s foliage is overhanging in/on adjacent property, then that property owner has a right to trim it .. BUT, that said, I’d definitely check w/ the insurance company beforehand, and if there was an issue w/ a neighbor, I think it’d be a good idea to at least make the neighbor aware of the circumstances first (along w/ the info from the insc agent) before doing anything.

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