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New neighbor hates my plants

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Latest post Sat, Nov 15 2014 9:00 AM by karen2222. 3 replies.
  • Fri, Nov 14 2014 2:28 PM

    • nikki512
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Fri, Nov 14 2014
    • AZ
    • Posts 1

    New neighbor hates my plants

    I live in Tempe, AZ.  There is a hedge of Ruellia and Lead Trees (a ferny tree that can be quite large or kept trimmed to be a hedge or bush) between my house and my neighbor's house, on our side of the property line. When the neighbors purchased the house a year ago, the plants were full and the trees were at the maximum height we let them grow - about 10 feet. We trim them back every few months, before they develop fuzzies and sprout seed pods, and let them bush out again. Our new neighbor apparently does not like our plants, despite them being there before they moved in. He has sprayed weed killer all the way along his side of the bushes, so they are brown and dead from his view. He claims it is because the plants are invasive and sprouting out into his rock - which he didn't put a weed barrier under, and he doesn't want any of the plants hanging over into his yard, so he killed the ones up against the property line. Luckily, it hasn't affected our view, and they are still full and bushy on our side. Several months ago, I went outside to find that my neighbor had cut the Lead Trees down to about 3 feet tall. Since then, they have not grown back as thick and bushy as they used to be. This week, I have been finding branches of the trees torn off and thrown into our yard. After asking him why he would throw the branches into our yard instead of just trimming them and throwing them away, he started yelling about how I don't maintain the bushes, so he has to spend hours every week doing our work. I had just trimmed the trees back the weekend before to try to get them to bush out again before their growing season ends. The plants in our hedge are meant to be full and bushy, but he seems to want everything to be straight and controlled. I feel it is fine if that is what he wants to see on his side of the yard, and he can trim anything that hangs over however he wants, but I don't think it is okay for him to just tear apart my trees, cut them down, or throw the garbage into my yard. Legally speaking, who is responsible for the trimming on my neighbor's side? With the previous neighbor, I had no problem trimming and neatening up her side of the hedge when I did ours.  With the new neighbors, keeping every last branch from hanging over at all would require daily upkeep, which is apparently what he has been doing when he throws the broken branches into our yard. Is it acceptable for him to be throwing the branches he tears off the trees into our yard? Finally, is it legal for him to spray any of the bushes on our property with weed killer?

    Thank you for any answers you can provide.

  • Fri, Nov 14 2014 5:23 PM In reply to

    • DPH
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Oct 8 2001
    • TX
    • Posts 7,875

    Re: New neighbor hates my plants

    Is it acceptable for him to be throwing the branches he tears off the trees into our yard? Finally, is it legal for him to spray any of the bushes on our property with weed killer?

    Acceptable is in the eye of the beholder.  As long as he is not entering your property to trim, all you have is a disgruntled neighbor.  Instead of making a federal case about the branches, pick them up and dispose of them.  It will steal some of his thunder since you won't be reacting.  If he sprays enough weed killer to actually kill the plant/tree, then I would say that you might have some sort of legal recourse, but I suspect that it would be an uphill fight.  Why not consult with a local attorney to get some advice on how to proceed with this clown.  If he is just using a contact weed killer, it probably won't kill the plant and he gets to look at brown.



    "Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."  -  Mark Twain


  • Sat, Nov 15 2014 5:52 AM In reply to

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

    Re: New neighbor hates my plants

    A range war is never fun....may be smart to run it past a local attorney skilled at RE matters.

    In general your neighbor is free to trim branches on his side of the line .

    He is not free to dump stuff on your side of the line ..and it may be wise to look up your state law as to trespassing ..and put the neighbor on notice and follow up.

    I would think that to spray chemicals on your side of the line is a form of trespassing 


  • Sat, Nov 15 2014 9:00 AM In reply to

    Re: New neighbor hates my plants

    he can trim anything that hangs over however he wants, but I don't think it is okay for him to just tear apart my trees, cut them down, or throw the garbage into my yard.

    You are right.  His damaging the plants on your side of the property line is vandalism, and his throwing debris from his property onto yours is likely to constitute illegal dumping or littering.  His actions, to the extent that they make your property look bad from any public areas, may also put you at risk of being cited by the city for violating Tempe's Nuisances and Property Enhancement Code (there's a link on the Tempe Code Compliance website).

    Good luck getting the police to enforce any criminal laws in connection with this;  they are typically very reluctant to get involved in this kind of petty neighbor squabbling.  You could try an exploratory and preferably anonymous phone call to the nonemergency number, just to ask questions about the things your neighbor is doing, but (a) they probably won't want to do anything and (b) you may not want them to do anything, since it might make your neighbor REALLY mad and start a war that spirals out of control.

    If you sue your neighbor, not only will you make him more angry (same as calling the cops on him), you are likely to spend more on lawyer fees and court costs than you will collect in damages.  The law tends to be reluctant to try to value things that are difficult to place a dollar value on, including intangibles like aesthetics, privacy, or peace of mind - and including the difference between the value of a large tree and the price of a nursery-grown replacement.  So you might be likely to win only the cost of buying and planting replacement trees for the ones he kills or damages irreparably.  But I might be wrong (I'm not a lawyer, much less one who practices in AZ), so maybe it would be worth a couple hundred dollars to get a consultation from a local lawyer.

    Did this guy ever try to talk to you about your trees (amicably), or has he been a jerk from Day One?

    Building a privacy fence or a wall on that side of your property might be a good option if you can afford it.  I took a quick look at the Tempe Zoning and Development Code (also linked on that webpage), and if I understood it right, you'd be allowed to build a wall as tall as 8 feet, except in the front setback area.  If you do consider this idea, definitely talk to the zoning code staff about what you would need to do to be allowed to build right on the property line instead of inside the side setback.  Ideally, you and your neighbor could agree to jointly install a property-line wall and each maintain your own side.

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