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Tree Leaves and Neighbors

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Latest post Mon, Nov 25 2013 2:11 PM by Drew. 11 replies.
  • Sun, Nov 24 2013 5:07 PM

    Tree Leaves and Neighbors

    Good evening,

    I live in the suburbs of southern Virginia and purchased a home surrounded by numerous mature trees. In the summer, our trees provide much appreciated shade...and, in the fall, a ton of leaves (not as appreciated).

    Over the last year or so, I've witnessed one of my neighbors take on the habit of not only throwing their grass clippings over the fence into the back corner of my yard, but also raking the leaves from their back yard and tossing them over the fence into my yard as well.

    Now, while I admit that it is likely that at least half of the leaves in their back yard are from trees on my property, I find their behavior to be quite disrespectful - particularly since they do not ask or advise me in any way of their actions, and also because their family admittedly enjoys the shade, privacy and picturesque view provided by my trees.

    Obviously, I can not help where the wind blows the leaves from my trees, nor am I willing/can afford to cut down the trees (which help to prevent errosion into the watershed they surround, assist in reducing wind shear and home heating/cooling costs).

    Ultimately, however, I just don't know what Virginia state laws are regarding this issue. Are my neighbors within their legal rights to throw leaves that may have fallen from my trees into their yard over into my yard? I am confident that having an understanding of the law in this situation will help me to determine my best next steps.

    Thank you.

  • Sun, Nov 24 2013 5:57 PM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
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    • Joined on Thu, Mar 30 2000
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    Re: Tree Leaves and Neighbors

    beyond just the Golden Rule I suspect VA law does not support dumping of ones waste into a neighbors back yard.   ....  Bit before you invite legal warfare and mud fights..have you thought about a low key one on one approach to his dumping practices ...perhaps,he thought you wanted to compost all this stuff. ( remote) .....that the leaves came from your tree or  one down the block is not the point as to his dumping stuff in your yard...



  • Sun, Nov 24 2013 6:01 PM In reply to

    Re: Tree Leaves and Neighbors

    Va Beach Neighbor:
    I've witnessed one of my neighbors take on the habit of not only throwing their grass clippings over the fence into the back corner of my yard,

    While your tree may hang over the fence and drop some leaves in their yard, their grass certainly is not growing in your yard and what they are doing is rude and wrong.

    Va Beach Neighbor:
    I just don't know what Virginia state laws are regarding this issue.

    The only regulations I can find relate to disposing of yard waste with the local community not when your neighbor is a moron.

    Va Beach Neighbor:
    Are my neighbors within their legal rights to throw leaves that may have fallen from my trees into their yard over into my yard?

    I don't see a law that says they can't but that doesn't mean they should. If it were me I would put them RIGHT BACK over the fence into their yard. If I could catch them at the time I would do it as they are dumping i.e. for each dump over into my yard one would come right back to them.  As for the grass clippings I would bag those up and they would find them in the front seat of their car.  Then again I am evil to the core about some of these things.

    That said I feel your pain because I have a neighbor on either side whose trees seem to drop their leaves then blow into my yard necessitating my raking them.  I caught my one neighbor raking her leaves off her yard and into mine.  I walked over and had a curt but friendly chat and said while I would prefer not to rake either it was quite rude for her to rake them into my yard and expect me to bag them.  Especially since if we rake to the curb the city vacuums them up for free.  She apologized and help rake up the leaves and bag them from my yard and hasn't repeated that stunt since.

    I would have a conversation with them about their dumping actions.  If they don't stop I would build my fence higher where they are dumping so that they can't reach over to do it.  You can also offer to trim back some of the limbs so that fewer leaves potentially could drop in their yard.  If NONE of that works:  dump them on their front porch and leave them there.  Though you risk starting a war with them.  My gut says they think you have no clue they are doing it.  

    "That's just my opinion, then again I might be wrong."  Dennis Miller

     

  • Sun, Nov 24 2013 6:48 PM In reply to

    Re: Tree Leaves and Neighbors

    Thank you for your thoughtful response, Drew.

    I absolutely agree that talking with my neighbors is the best course of action - and is my plan, but I wanted to be aware of the legalities before doing so. I have seen a growing number of neighbors doing this sort of thing and their response is "these are their leaves, so they can have them" (rather indignantly). As I mentioned, I am disheartened, and while I hope that is not the response I receive, I wanted to be armed with legal facts...just in case they take such a position. Perhaps, however, their intentions are pure (environmentally focused - composting)..that would be fantastic! But I would still hope they would ask before doing so :-(

  • Sun, Nov 24 2013 7:06 PM In reply to

    Re: Tree Leaves and Neighbors

    You made me smile! Thank you so much :-)

    I'm envious. I wish our city offered the vaccuum option.

    Anywho, I have talked to them about the grass clippings and while the practice has decreased, I have caught them in the act a couple of times. I'm really not interested in starting a war as our kids play together (and...I really don't want to feel uncomfortable going into my backyard). 

    Although I do plan to put up a fence, we simply cannot afford to do so at the moment :-( As for trimming the trees, we are also unable to do so...but not due to costs. We recently had several trees manicured and were advised not to remove any healthy limbs from the trees in question as it could result in the trees falling over. These trees (which are about 5 feet away from their fence) border a water shed where we continue to struggle to add soil in an effort to prevent further erosion. Because the trees are rather dense around the water shed, they don't have many branches on the side of the water (where there is less light) - leaving the outside of the perimeter for the braches to grow - which are the branches that face their property. Of course, they have the option to trim the branches that hang over into their property, but they have not done so.

    From a personal perspective, I find it a bit disappointing and surprising that I actually have to have this conversation at all with grown, responsible adults. From my perview, I agree with you...it is nothing less than rude and demonstrates that they have little to no respect for us. Again...disappointing.

    Nevertheless, I want to thank you again for making me giggle. While deeply unimportant in the grand scheme of things, this leaf-dumping issue is giving me a bit of a headache at the moment.  Oh, and thank you for trying to take a deeper look into our laws. I couldn't find much more than you did, also. :-(  Have a super night!

  • Sun, Nov 24 2013 8:45 PM In reply to

    Re: Tree Leaves and Neighbors

    Va Beach Neighbor:
    Ultimately, however, I just don't know what Virginia state laws are regarding this issue. Are my neighbors within their legal rights to throw leaves that may have fallen from my trees into their yard over into my yard?

    Doesn't look like it, according to this Washington Post article.

    Also, under what theory would it be OK for them to throw their GRASS CLIPPINGS onto your property???

    Might want to have a gentle conversation with these neighbors.  Explain that you don't have a compost pile and don't enjoy having to dispose of their yard waste for them.  Maybe they will be embarrassed enough to stop.

  • Sun, Nov 24 2013 8:52 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Tree Leaves and Neighbors

    Im not suggesting a range war is a good path......but if neighbors continue to disregard your property ..you might take a careful look at VAs trespassing law and the requirements of notice et al......it's a class 1 misdemeanor which can get one some jail time and all sorts of problems.   



  • Sun, Nov 24 2013 9:03 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    • Joined on Thu, Mar 30 2000
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    Re: Tree Leaves and Neighbors

    parts of VA still allow open burning for ceremonial or religious purposes or burning within some sort of structure with a chimney.   And what may be illegal one place may be legal 1/4 mile away 



  • Sun, Nov 24 2013 10:57 PM In reply to

    Re: Tree Leaves and Neighbors

    Karen2222, thank you for your reply and for finding the article. I agree a conversation is in order and, hopefully, all will come to amicable conclusion. As it relates to grass clippings - an interesting tidbit...the home has been in the family for a couple of generations. Apparently, the father of the previous generation used to do the same thing (perhaps he had an agreement with the folks who used to own my home). As a result, the new owners have continued the tradition. As I mentioned, I had a conversation about it quite some time ago. And while there seemed to be an understanding, I have "caught them in the act" a couple of times. As I have stated, I truly feel that it is a matter of respect, or, in this case, and obvious lack of it, sadly. Again, I truly appreciate your response and for you taking the time to find the article.

  • Sun, Nov 24 2013 10:59 PM In reply to

    Re: Tree Leaves and Neighbors

    Drew...very true, indeed. Last I checked, in our area, you can burn, but it requires a permit. I do love the scent, however. :-)

  • Sun, Nov 24 2013 11:52 PM In reply to

    Re: Tree Leaves and Neighbors

    Va Beach Neighbor:
    As I mentioned, I had a conversation about it quite some time ago. And while there seemed to be an understanding, I have "caught them in the act" a couple of times

    Maybe it's time to start heaving it all back over the fence!  You are right, if they kept doing it after you asked them not to, that IS disrespectful.

     

  • Mon, Nov 25 2013 2:11 PM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Mar 30 2000
    • PA
    • Posts 51,431

    Re: Tree Leaves and Neighbors

    IF after you have a polite discussion, the neighbors have new memory failure you might want to take a careful look not only at VAs trespassing laws but also at its illegal dumping laws which include dumping of trash on private property .   



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