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My neighbor's Japanese red maple bush (tree) is hanging over my yard line and I'm planning on putting a fence up soon. I have to trim it back and here in Pennsylvania it is my legal right to do so, but I don't want to kill or harm the tree. I have to put the fence up soon because I have two large dogs and I don't want them following my kids out the front door and wandering off.

What is the best way to do this? Do I paint where I cut it back or let it go?

  • Is it small enough that it could be staked up at all instead of cutting it? Spending $6-10 for a large tree stake/pole could be a cheap way to not only avoid a tense situation with a neighbor, but build good will with them instead. – cathode Apr 30 '15 at 20:38
  • No The tree has been there for about 20 years or so it's about 5 foot tall by about 7 foot wide. – Catherine R Apr 30 '15 at 21:37
  • Welcome to the site! You wouldn't have a picture for us, would you? Just to give us a better idea what we are talking about. – Stephie Apr 30 '15 at 21:57
  • It's dark here now I can't take a good pic but how do I load a pic into this conversation? – Catherine R May 1 '15 at 2:24
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    Catherine, have you talked to your neighbor, told them your intentions, showed them where you want to put the fence and then asked them if they wanted you to cut it or did they want to? I'd probably start there, instead of just doing it because you legally can. You may have already done this, but I just wanted to check. It's where I would start. Keep it friendly and know that if things go badly, then the law is on your side. – Dalton May 1 '15 at 13:01
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One thing about Maples, specially Japanese Acers - they should not be cut in spring/early summer because they bleed excessively. Once into July, its not such a problem. Given that's the case, it might be better to have a chat with your neighbour about how to manage the situation - you need to do your fence, and they need to protect their tree, and it might be possible for them, or both of you, to at least tie or prop the tree branches back or up a bit until the painting is complete. If you want to remove anything hanging over your boundary, best done after July or in Fall, when it won't harm the tree.

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I think the first thing you should do is to talk to your neighbor about it. Instead of making extra work for yourself and potential creating a hostile neighbor, which no one likes, you should just go talk to your neighbor an tell them you intend to put up a fence. Be nice and explain that they have a shrub growing over the property line and that it needs to be trimmed back for the fence. Show them where the property line goes and how much of the plant you need trimmed back and ask them if they'd like to cut it or would they like you to.

Chances are, they won't trust you to get it as pretty as they like and will do the work for you. Even if a few wisps still stick onto your side, you can snip them off or just let them rub against the fence. If they say for you to, then try to do a descent job of it and if they don't like it, they can't complain.

If they try to pitch a fit and say you aren't touching their tree, then politely inform them of what the local law says about your ability to trim plants that encroach on your property and that you were trying to be friendly about it. If they keep on, don't argue, just go do what you need to do, to legally trim it up. Good luck.

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