Garden laws to avoid creating ‘conflict’ with neighbors – ‘think twice’ before planting

Before you go trimming branches or picking fruit from the ground, legal experts from BPP University Law School share six things you can do when preparing a garden for spring this year that could get you in trouble with the law. Gardeners must be aware of the laws when it comes to gardening or else they may get into “conflicts” with neighbors.

1. Theft of fruits

The experts said: “It may sound strange, but it’s true. If you find fallen fruit from your neighbour’s tree in your garden, they have a legal right to ask for it back.

“Not only this, but taking away the said fruit would also be considered theft. If you want to avoid this, the best solution is to return the fruit as soon as you get it – and avoid throwing it back in their garden.

If you toss the fruit back into their orchard without them knowing, it can be seen as fly-tipping or littering the orchard waste.

2. Trimming Branches

It can be tempting to prune and cut back a lot of branches and shrubs in the winter months, but gardeners must be careful when doing so.

Read more: Avoid making four common tomato-growing mistakes

The pros note: “You may find they’re blocking some of those warm spring sun rays from coming in. While it can be frustrating, you can’t cut a branch off a tree that doesn’t belong to you.

“Despite this, you are, in fact, allowed to cut branches up to your property line—which is essentially where your garden ends and your neighbors’ begins.”

To avoid conflict, it’s always better to ask first before cutting branches, or ask if they can do it on their own as well.

3. Planting trees

Spring is a great time to plan what to plant in the garden, including trees. However, experts said gardeners need to “think twice” when planting any type of tree.

He explained: “If your neighbor has had natural light available through a window for 20 years or more, you are not allowed to block it under the Right to Light Act.

“That’s why it’s always wise to plant trees and shrubs away from windows to avoid any confusion.”

Instead, focus on adding plants to the patio or climbing a few trellis, as long as it is maintained.

4. Asking Neighbors to Clean Up Your Leaves

If Britons have already started spending more time in the garden getting it ready for spring, they want it tidied up, which ultimately falls on them if their garden is a mess.

Read more: Start ‘recommended’ lawn care now for ‘green and luscious’ grass

Neighbors are under no obligation to clean up any leaves that may have fallen from their trees over the winter into your yard.

While it may be tempting to ask them, to avoid conflict, invest in a leaf blower or rake to clear up the mess.

5. Collect flowers from neighbors

The legal expert adds: “Some trees are adorned with very beautiful flowers that you may feel inclined to own in the heat of the moment.

“While the flowers may have already wilted or fallen from the tree, your neighbors still have every right to demand them back – just as with fruit.

“So instead, try ordering and planting bright spring seeds, bulbs, spades and gardening gear yourself.”

6. Taking the land dispute in hand

According to professionals, this topic often alienates neighbors more than anything. He said: “When we go into spring spending more time in our garden, we might consider topics such as ‘Should my neighbour’s fence be closer to my house’?”.

“or ‘Where exactly are the boundaries between houses?’. Unfortunately, as boundaries can indeed move over the years, this type of confusion can usually only be resolved by contacting HM Land Registry.

Adhering to all these garden laws means Britons can avoid any conflict with nearby residents, which means they can enjoy spring and summer in peace.

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