How to Avoid Conflict When Pruning Your Neighbor's Tree
Jun 23, 2020 | By: Splendid Gardens LLC
In the state of Texas, you do have the right to remove branches that encroach over into your property line, however you cannot harm the health of the tree. We'd like to add that neither should you harm the health of your relationship with your neighbor. We don't have to be friends with our neighbors, but it sure does make life a lot easier if we're friendly with them. Given that mature trees are a significant investment of time, and money, and often beloved by their owners, it's to everyone's benefit to handle pruning in an open and communicative manner.
We recently had a front row seat to an unfortunate dispute between neighbors that could have easily been avoided with these three simple steps. As a result, it's likely the tree will die and the homeowner will incur significant expense to remove it and replant what was once a shade bed, but is now receiving full sun.
1) Communication: Talk to your neighbors, they may not be aware that their tree is negatively affecting the enjoyment of your property, or causing a nuisance. Discuss how much trimming is desired and reach agreement before any further action is taken.
2) Hire a professional: A professional arborist will ensure that trimming is done properly, applying pinching, heading, shearing and thinning cuts as appropriate for the size and species of the tree. A bad trim job could open you up to financial liability if it's determined that the health of the tree has been adversely affected. Both parties should agree on the professional, and if handled correctly, your neighbor may even be willing to share the cost of the pruning with you to ensure that his/her interests are equally represented.
3) Be present: It's one thing to look twenty feet up in the air and point to an area that both you and your neighbor agree is where the tree can be cut, but were you both truly referring to the same point? If both parties are present during the actual trimming, miscommunication, and mistakes, can be avoided. We can always trim a bit more. You can't glue a branch back on.
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This is What Harming a Tree Looks Like
There's so much wrong with these pictures it's hard to know where to begin. Firstly, no communication took place. Our client returned home one evening to find half of his tree lopped off. Strike one.
This is a multi-trunk tree and almost half of it was removed, that is a radical loss for a plant that depends on its leaves to feed itself. In addition, it's stabilizing base has been weakened, making it more prone to wind damage. Strike two.
The severe cuts will now foster the growth of "sucker" branches. Suckers are a tree’s attempt to grow more branches, it's typically in response to some kind of injury. If the roots have been damaged, suckers may grow from the base of the trunk. If suckers grow higher on the trunk, they’re called watersprouts and they are usually at the site of a pruning wound, a crack or some other damage. Suckers require ongoing attention to preserve the long-term health of the tree. Strike three.
It's likely this tree will die given the severity of the damage. At a minimum, it's now an eyesore and no longer provides shade to the bed below, which the homeowner had filled with shade-loving plants and flowers and will now have to be replanted.
Breaks and Tears Invite Insect and Disease
If you didn't know that these branches were twenty feet in the air, you might think a beaver did the pruning here. These "cuts" were made by a professional tree company. That may seem like an oxymoron, but as I've often heard "someone graduated first in their class and someone graduated last, they both have the same degree". Know who you're hiring and make sure your neighbor approves of the choice to avoid disputes down the road. In this case the client will incur expense to repair this damage to preserve the longevity of the trees.
Be a good neighbor; a little bit of communication goes a long way when you're taking a chainsaw to someone else's cherished tree. It's so easy to ensure that everyone's happy with the results rather than cause a point of conflict with someone who may literally live within earshot of your home.
Splendid Gardens provides professional landscape services, including tree pruning, to Dallas and surrounding cities in North Texas. We take great pride in delivering customized services to each client. Our experienced teams provide a variety of services including landscape design, installation, scheduled maintenance services, custom flagstone and redesign of existing landscapes. We actively give back to the community by volunteering our services to local projects in need.