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Question DetailsAsked on 7/18/2016

Root from neighbor's tree is growing into my backyard. Damaging my fence and possibly my patio. What can I do?

The tree is in my neighbor's back yard but the root has increasingly grown in the last 8 years, causing an uneven back yard on my side of the property (the root is visible). My neighbors tree is destroying the fence on my side. How can I rebuild a new fence if the root continues to grow. I'm concerned it's also growing into my back patio, which may raise the concrete over time.

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Links to several similar questions with responses here FYI, which might help - but you would need to research laws in your particular state to be sure, especially if this is a major root supporting a good portion (or all) the load on that side of the tree.

GENERALLY, you can cut branches and roots crossing your side of the line, especially if causing damage/danger/unsightliness, but if it is enough to kill or severly unbalance the tree (and most especially if it makes it fall down almost immediately after cutting because you cut all the major roots on one side of the tree), there are limitations to your action and you have to give legal notice of your intent to give him reasonable time to have the tree taken down on his own. In some states you basically have to have the tree "condemned" with a court order if the trimming would likely cause failure of the tree, with the cost recoverable from the owner if he refuses to take it down.

Of course, nicest approach is to point it out to him while passing the time of day one time, and ask if he has any problem with you cutting it. Obviously his verbal OK would bear little legal weight, but puts him on notice of the issue AND gives him the option (offer this to him) to have it cut at his side of the line with a reasonable time, say 2-4 weeks).

On the fence - if it is destroying the fence presumably the tree is close to or even on the line (meaning at least part ofthe above-ground trunk is on the line), in which case it is a jointly owned tree and you have to either agree on what to do about it, share cost if taken down, or go to court for a court order for removal and cost sharing.

On the fence issue again - a new fence could always be custom-built up and over the root - put a post fairly but not too close on each side and arch the bottom of the fence up and over it - with wood or chain link fences commonly means putting the bottom cross-beam or bottom bar clear above the root instead of near the ground (allowing room for root growth) but running the boards or chain link down almost to the root, cut and shaped around it - and then cutting the boards or fencing back periodically with a sawzall/wire cutters as the root increases in diameter - or with wire fencing just letting the root grow around the wire.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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