Thursday, June 10, 2010

Straying Over The Line

Why is it that when people see a fence, they assume property line?  A few years ago my neighbor went through a phase where he hacked down a row of nicely (and recently) trimmed lilacs. I was miffed, but *most* of them grew back.

Today I was bringing out my trash when I realized a good chunk of my lilac bushes are completely missing. Gone. Totally gone.

I'm not so happy.

The previous owner of my house put up a fence for her dogs. There is a massive oak tree that runs down the middle of the property line and two rows of lilacs (one my neighbor's and the row nearests me and the fence, mine). Not wanting to try to wrap a fence around the tree and through the lilacs the PO had the fence placed a 3-4 feet in (immediately on my side of the tree with both rows of lilacs on the outside).

I'm absolutely sure he didn't mean to be malicious. But honestly, before you started hacking out bushes (that I have maintained), wouldn't you think to check? And I have talked with him about this a number of times in the past.

I left a big note out on the fence (best I don't see him right now) and will need to talk to that neighbor this weekend.  Like I have time for this.


Reuben said...


Kari said...

My sympathies! We had the same thing happen, only it was a tree! We also have (our) lilacs on the other side of our fence and they neighbors are constantly using that space to dispose of waste such as ash from their grill and dead potted plants. We've had talks but it doesn't seem to change anything. So frustrating... good luck!

Karen Anne said...

Um. Yikes. I get quite worked up about vacant lots I have, why do people think a vacant lot is somehow not owned? So they dump stuff in it and park on it.

I think you have a different situation though, one where the neighbor honestly doesn't know where the property line is. It behooves you to make sure he knows (be very very polite, my cousin the lawyer said when I had a similar situation, the last thing you want is bad relations with neighbors) because if he treats it as his long enough, your ownership of the land could eventually be called into question.

Maybe he transplanted the lilacs onto his land, in which case you might be able to get them back.

StuccoHouse said...

My neighbor is a nice guy. We just go through these "episodes" more regularly than I'd like. Broken air conditioner outside my bedroom, hacked lilacs, moles in his yard moving over to mine, creeping charlie doing the same.... I just need to calm down a bit and all will be fine. It's just time consuming.

Karen Anne - my attorney friends say the same thing as your cousin. I need to put something in writing.

MrBrownThumb said...


Maybe you should put some police tape around the bushes and knock on his door and ask him if he knows anything about the bushes that were murdered.

Humor goes along way.

NV said...

Well, at least he's a NICE guy. :-)

Feel your pain though. And like Kari, ours is with a tree. Neighbor does not take care of the tree at all. Right now it is within inches of my carport (limbs will be laying on it soon.)And, some limbs are so low you can barely walk beneath them on my side. Told him last week I was going to trim before it got on my carport. could tell he wasn't pleased but he didn't say anything (including not volunteering to take care of it himself ...)

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about the lilacs. It's really not unreasonable for one to assume that a fence is on the property line. Bad idea on the part of the PO in moving it back from the property line. I'd suggest you get a survey done and relocate it to avoid future issues, including an adverse possession claim.

artemis said...

Agreed with Karen Anne's suggestion to get it in writing. We have a similar situation (although for now, a bit more positive!) with a strip of land between our driveway and the neighbor's house. Their house and our garage are both built up to the property line, but the driveway from our garage narrows to leave a little median between the two (that would make the driveway just about wide enough for a Model T! ;) The previous owner of our house had sprinklers and a little strip of grass there. Then both houses sold, and last year we came home one day to find that our neighbors had put a beautiful little flower garden in there. Which is great. Except that it's on our property, and one of these years the plan is to put permeable pavers in and widen the driveway. In the meantime, we're stuck driving over anything planted too near the edge, since the other option is to scratch the other side of the car against a rock garden wall (which we've tried out too, but don't recommend...) Eeek!

For right now, I'm just avoiding the whole situation since I figure the sprinklers being on our water line and the fact that the garage is built to the property line will cover us (and we love the flowers!)....but still, I can envision situations like these turning not-so-pleasant. Good luck!!

Joe M. said...

I had transplated a 50' or longer row of mature boxwood at our property line some 20 yrs ago and for Southern antebellum houses, boxwood is jewelry. Anyway, the neighbors' yardman decided to trim this and trimed...1/2 of the hedge right down the middle. We had to have a "Come to Jesus" meeting where I clearly explained I would do it all or pay to have it all done or pay 1/2 but triming half of my grandmother's 70 yr old boxwood was totally unacceptable.

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