When and how to prune trees that overhang your property?

When trees are planted on the property line, it is better to respect the law on pruning in order to avoid neighborhood conflicts. Being free to plant shrubs and trees in our gardens does not in fact exempt us from applying the regulations in force to the letter. Let’s take stock of our obligations when trees overhang our property.

Size of trees and neighborhood: respecting legal obligations

The law obliges to respect a minimum distance between a property and that of the neighbor to plant trees. If this rule is not respected, you may have to top them, or even pull them out. But it is not always easy to know exactly what the local rules or even the customs are in this area. To avoid making a mistake before planting an isolated tree or a hedge of shrubs, it is better to get information either from the town hall of your municipality or from the prefecture. Indeed, it is essential to know with certainty whether the hedge is adjoining or not adjoining because that changes everything!

The Civil Code is there to regulate things (art. 671, 672 and 673). It should be remembered that any tree over 2 meters high must be at least 2 meters from the boundary that separates two properties. As for shrubs whose height is less than 2 meters, they must be at least 50 centimeters from the dividing line between the two lots.

Is the hedge adjoining or not?

The rules concerning the size of trees at the edge of the property vary depending on whether they are adjoining or not. We must therefore remember the following.

  • And the hedge is on a single piece of land but constitutes a dividing line between two properties, only their owner of the land on which the plantations are located must take care of their size.
  • And the hedge is planted astride the two plots, it is therefore an adjoining hedge. Joint ownership means that everyone owns the hedge. In this case, the pruning of the trees or shrubs must therefore be carried out by the two neighbors, each having to take charge of their side. But be careful: if one of the two decides to destroy an adjoining hedge at the property line, he is obliged to erect a wall on this line.

It is better to raise this subject with your neighbor so that there is no conflict afterwards. It is strongly recommended to find out about local regulations beforehand because the neighbor has rights, but he may also have obligations in this area. If there is no local regulation on the matter, it is therefore the Civil Code that applies.

Size of detached trees

If the branches of the trees protrude from the neighbor, since these plants are not adjoining he has no right to cut them himself. Only the owner of the trees is responsible for their size. Note also that the neighbor can demand that the height of the trees be reduced if the legal distances are not respected. It even has the possibility of requiring the destruction of a tree in certain cases. Be careful when landscaping land! You should also know that the neighbor is not allowed to harvest the fruits located on the branches that protrude from his home, but has the right to pick up those that have fallen on his land in a natural way…

How to prune trees that overhang the property?

Pruning involves reducing the volume as much as the height of a tree. This operation should not be confused with felling, which may be mandatory when a tree represents a danger to people or risks creating damage to a building or a power line, for example.

Concerning the roots of these trees or even the bramblesthe neighbor can cut them freely if they encroach on his land, but he must limit their size to the property line.

Pruning implies that one enters the neighboring property when the tree branches exceed the boundary of the land. Although the “ladder tower” easement not subject to any legal regulations, logic dictates that it should be granted in order to allow the necessary gardening work to be carried out.

By refusing to grant this easement, the neighbor therefore no longer allows the owner of the trees to cut the branches that protrude from his home. This therefore obliges the owner of the plants to prune the branches from home, even if this is not the most convenient. You can always try to impose this type of servitude by way of justice, but this risks undermining “good” neighborly relations…

Pruning of trees by a landscaper and tax credit

Finally, the best solution for pruning the trees that overhang the neighbor’s is to entrust the task to a landscaper. This experienced professional knows the regulations in force inside out. Moreover, he has the adequate material which allows him to carry out the pruning even if the neighbor does not grant any “ladder tower” easement. He also knows perfectly well when and how to prune trees and shrubs. Indeed, it is necessary to respect the season, since all the plants do not prune at the same time and this must be done in the rules of the art.

Finally, by calling on a landscaper to maintain the trees and the garden, you benefit from a 50% tax credit on the final invoice, within the limit of €5,000 per year, which is far from negligible. For example, for an invoice of this amount, the tax credit is €2,500.

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