Family Forum: Neighbour Disagreement

A neighbourly conflict over garden debris.


We have a large lemon-scented gum tree in our backyard. it is very messy for several months each year. Over the past decade, our neighbours have thrown leaf matter and bark back over the fence.

They have a green bin but choose to cause havoc and throw debris into our backyard. This debris also includes other matter such as large stones. This is a hazard for our lawn-mowing contractor. Is there anything we can do?


In the panel’s opinion, one of the most important issues with disputes such as this is the ongoing relationship with neighbours. We always encourage people to research the legal situation and to negotiate to reach a solution that satisfies all concerned.

The Legal Services Commission of SA ( has pamphlets on many issues including “Trees and the Law”, plain language interpretations, and an advice line (phone 1300 366 424).  We encourage you to use this service. In general, your neighbour is entitled to return to you the organic matter that your tree deposits in their yard.

It is then important to talk to your neighbours and negotiate how to proceed. As you may well have the same neighbours for many years, a cordial relationship with them can be very important to the ongoing enjoyment of your property.

A little “give and take” can go a long way to solving such disputes and taking legal action can be quite expensive. If negotiations prove to be difficult, many councils have a mediation service for neighbourhood disputes.

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