Leaf litter from a neighbour’s tree is making a mess of a reader’s garden.
There is a very large tree in an adjoining house lot to our garden. This deposits huge amounts of debris and leaves into our garden, particularly in autumn.
As we like to keep our lawn and flowerbeds pristine, this creates a daily chore as they are unsightly and sometimes damage the plants we have. Is there any legal recourse in this matter?
The short answer is no, there is no legal recourse when it comes to leaves. Tree trunks, limbs, roots and branches are different because they can cause structural damage to property. The tree owner may then be liable to pay compensation. There is no liability for leaves.
Talk to your neighbours so they understand your problem; maybe they would be willing to work with you towards a solution you can both be happy with.
If they want to keep the tree you will have to learn to live with it. Consider the leaves as a resource rather than a waste product. They make fabulous compost or mulch. Even if you just want to dispose of them, a mulcher will reduce the bulk so you can fit more into the green waste bin.
The Legal Services Commission has an excellent brochure, Trees and the Law, available on their website www.lsc.sa.gov.au/cb_pages/publications.php
You do have the right to trim overhanging branches up to the boundary line, provided it won’t harm the tree. The tree lopper must not enter the neighbour’s property or cross the boundary in order to do this, as that would be trespassing.
It’s not advisable to throw leaves and fallen branches back over the fence into your neighbour’s place.
If you are struggling to communicate with your neighbours you could try a Community Mediation Service.
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