Feeling intimidated in own garden

(68 Posts)
orangepudding Mon 24-Jun-13 12:53:54

My mum had lived in her house for almost 30 years. For about 25 of those years she has been growing a tree in her garden. It's probably about 2 storeys high.
Recently new neighbours moved in. They do not like the tree. Almost every weekend they have visitors and when they hear my mum open her back door they go into their own back garden and discuss the trees size and how it impacts on the extension they have built - it blocks some light and they don't have a clear view onto the path behind the house.
My mum feels intimidated by this. AIBU to think they should put up with it as the tree was there before they bought the house and built their extensions and they certainly shouldn't make my mum feel intimidated in her own garden?

LifeofPo Mon 24-Jun-13 12:55:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bejeena Mon 24-Jun-13 12:55:54

Well I don't know legally what the situation is but I would have thought your neighbours have a case if the tree is blocking their light.

arabesque Mon 24-Jun-13 12:58:31

They may have a good case for wanting the tree cut down a bit; but the way they're making their point is rude and childish.

qme Mon 24-Jun-13 12:58:36

you are right
I know it must be hard for your mum but she just has to believe they will grow tired of that talk

qme Mon 24-Jun-13 12:59:25

would they have case if they built extension with the knowledge of the tree being there?

Seeline Mon 24-Jun-13 13:00:54

I agree with Po
If the tree was there before they built the extension they have no right to light at all. It's hard to prove in any case.
If the tree is overhanging their garden, they have the right to remove any branches that are encroaching over the boundary, but have to return them. That is it.
Your Mum should try commenting loudly on how much light she has lost due to their extension grin

orangepudding Mon 24-Jun-13 13:03:39

I think you need to prove you have had 20 years of uninterrupted light to legally force someone to cut a tree

It seems so silly as if it's cut the view changes from a lovely tree to a residential home which has windows facing straight into the gardens. The residential home has never complained.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Mon 24-Jun-13 13:03:43

As far as I know, you don't have a legal right to light. I seem to recall this being discussed on here and several people said that was the law.

tbh, your mum needs to not give a shit.

They viewed the house with the tree right there. They bought the house with the tree right there. It's not like anything changed between them buying the house and moving in. If they want to be stupid then let them.

Buy her a walkman and some headphones and get her to put them in every time she goes into the garden, if she really feels like she can't cope with hearing them. Although it would be better if she could see how silly they are being instead, and just chuckle away to herself. She would take back the power she has given them.

SlimePrincess Mon 24-Jun-13 13:07:55

She should appliqué T O U G H S H I T on some bunting and then drape it over the tree.

orangepudding Mon 24-Jun-13 13:10:23

SlimePrincess that is so tempting grin

OKnotOK Mon 24-Jun-13 13:10:24

I agree with Seeline

The tree has been there since before they even purchased the house.

Tell here to get a TPO (Tree Preservation Order) put on it...then post it through their door! grin

Tell her that she should give precisely zeo f*cks for her nasty neighbours.
Dont let the bastards wear you down.

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Mon 24-Jun-13 13:11:10

grin I like slime's suggestion.

freddiefrog Mon 24-Jun-13 13:11:14

I think the 20 year thing is right

We recently had a disagreement over trees with neighbours behind us

Basically, a housing estate was built. Along the edge of the estate there was a row of trees which were left in place, new houses built round them. When our houses were built the neighbours tried to block planning permission by getting tree preservation orders. PP was given, our houses were built round the trees. 10 years later, neighbours demanded trees were cut down, stating right to light. Neighbours lost dispute.

HormonalHousewife Mon 24-Jun-13 13:11:56

YY to the bunting. that would be fantastic !

2rebecca Mon 24-Jun-13 13:12:25

If your mum wants the tree and it's not affecting her light or foundations then she just takes the radio into the garden and plays it loudly if the neighbours start up moaning, or she opens her back door twenty minutes before she goes out so by the time she goes out they've finished moaning. I agree that they'll get bored discussing it and she has to toughen up a bit and not give a shit, or get the tree pruned by a tree surgeon so everyone has more light. Large trees and small gardens don't go together.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Mon 24-Jun-13 13:15:51

oh god. the bunting would be AMAZING! grin

We've been on both sides of this dilemma. Our old house was hideously overshadowed by enormous leylandii and we put up with it (silently) for about 3 years. No way would we have complained loudly in earshot of the owners. How childish. Anyway, when they cut it down, we had a little celebration. So... I do feel for the neighbours but they are being horrible and intimidating and should just put up and shut up. How awful for your mother.

When we moved again, our garden had 3 horrendously offensive cyprus trees and we knew before we bought the house that there was an ongoing dispute with the neighbours about getting them cut down. They were threatening legal action because the roots were undermining their extension. We cut them down to avoid an argument as we're wimps and we knew what it was like to have a garden with no light. We also went to a party in their garden on one of the hottest days of the year and spent the whole time shivering in the shade of our trees!

If your mum is feeling really intimidated then it has to stop. Could she go over there and ask them face to face? Maybe they could come to a compromise and give it a serious hair cut?

THERhubarb Mon 24-Jun-13 13:16:34

If your mum is feeling intimidated then why don't you call round?

If this were my mum I would knock on the door and ask if I could have a friendly chat.
I would explain that the tree has been there for 20+ years and it was there when they viewed the house. I would also make it clear that they have no legal right to light (we have just bought a house and that is the law) and whilst you sympathise that they obviously don't like the tree, your mum is not going to fell a tree for them.

A friendly chat is always the best start. If that doesn't work then you might have to try one of those mediators, but if you make your mum's position very clear they might shut up at least.

THERhubarb Mon 24-Jun-13 13:17:28

yy to offering to trim the tree.

It's an olive branch (excuse the pun) to them and might stop them from harrassing your mum.

ceebie Mon 24-Jun-13 13:17:36

I think that in order to remove any doubt, you should go over to the neighbours and politely inform them that whilst you are aware that they don't like the tree, your mother will not be removing it.

After that, if they want to maintain their petty campaign, let them. Hopefully they will get bored of it eventually. And hopefully their friends will get bored of hearing them on the subject too.

Our neighbours have large trees adjoining our garden. We would get lots more light if they were removed but they were clear (without us even asking) that they wouldn't want to remove any and we respect that. We did pay to have overhanging branches removed (of which there was a huge volume), which lightened up our garden no end.

JRmumma Mon 24-Jun-13 13:18:01

They should have thought about the impact of the tree on any extension/views onto the path before they bought the house and built the extension. I wouldn't have thought there is anything they could do about it if the tree was there first.

Have they actually asked your mum about cutting the tree down/back, or are they just making these comments from the other side of the fence?

It might be worth doing some light research into the situation to see how the land lies legally, just so you can reassure your mum that there is no danger of her having to do anything to the tree, but if it provides your mum's garden with some privacy from the windows behind then I would have thought that that fact and also that it was there before the new owners and thier extension would mean that the neighbours will have to just put up with it.

orangepudding Mon 24-Jun-13 13:26:19

They have spoken to her while I was there. He said that the tree was spoiling the new decking they had laid due to the oils conifers release hmm and asked my mum to remove it. At the time the tree had nesting bird living within it so I said it wasn't being removed. The tree is in the back corner of the garden, the corner furthest from their home so they don't have the issue of over hanging branches and it doesn't affect any foundations.

JustinBsMum Mon 24-Jun-13 13:26:57

It's possible to have a tree thinned or pollarded, I'm not clear on how the land lies, is the tree in the middle of the garden? Perhaps DM could plant a couple or three of fast growing birch trees to screen the care home and once they are a decent height remove, what I presume is, a big central tree. Neighbours could contribute to the cutting down. You could explain what you are doing and assure them that the tree will go when a replacement screen has grown up.

THERhubarb Mon 24-Jun-13 13:32:57

Ah right, so they want a beautiful tree destroyed to save their decking which is no doubt made from the wood of a felled tree. angry

Seriously, go round there and have a word. Your mum should not be made to feel intimidated in her own garden. Make it very clear to them that the tree is going nowhere and that they are welcome to contest this view if they wish. They will only spend money on a fruitless exercise as legally, they have no rights since the tree was there in the first place, it is not overhanging onto their land, it is not blocking their light and the roots are not causing a problem with their foundations.

Tell them that any further comments could be construed as harrassment and that your mother is keeping a log.

They need to be told firmly. Nip this in the bud now.

JustinBsMum Mon 24-Jun-13 13:47:51

Yes, def get on speaking terms. They are making a mountain out of a molehill. Facing up to them will prob make them back down (go round when neighbour is alone, not when they are all in their garden).

We bought a house where a (daft imo) neighbour had got wound up about the leylandii hedge which was at the end of our garden, he claimed roots were affecting his drive and got a lawyer and a tree expert to confirm this. Our owner got a lawyer and tree expert who denied that the roots were doing any harm. Much money wasted. He cut through roots and one tree died (which we later replaced) and not long after he died unexpectedly of a heart attack shock - not sure if the neighbour rows contributed but it had been ongoing for years. Sad really.

ceebie Mon 24-Jun-13 13:51:38

orangepudding, when you had that discussion, did you or your Mum imply that you couldn't remove the tree becuase there was a nesting bird? You need to clarify that you and your Mum won't be removing the tree, whatever the circumstances. Otherwise, if they believe there is any possibility that at some stage your mother might give in, they will persist.

orangepudding Mon 24-Jun-13 14:06:40

ceebie We told him that the tree would never be removed and that we would not thin it out for at least a few months due to the nesting birds. He's not interested in it getting thinned he wants the whole tree gone to which we said no.

THERhubarb Mon 24-Jun-13 14:10:56

You need to go round and have another word as obviously the message has not got through. He feels that if he intimidates your mum, she might cave in.

He needs to understand that your mum is not on her own and as her family you will not just sit back and allow him to make her feel harrassed in her own garden.

This is obviously how they get their own way and they are doing this quite deliberately.

If you don't show that you mean business now, it might escalate as they resort to more intimidating tactics.

ISeeSmallPeople Mon 24-Jun-13 14:11:55

Tell them that any further comments could be construed as harrassment and that your mother is keeping a log


Maybe diary or they might get the wrong idea

have you changed a few of the details here? did your mums neighbours actually build the decking becasue they have no light in their garden due to the ten foot wall and slope of the road? does the tree actually cover nearly all the decking and that both the decking and trampoline are constantly overed in pigeon poo, if this is this case I can give you both sides of the argument.

orangepudding Mon 24-Jun-13 14:20:58

ditavonteesed That sounds like a nightmare, thankfully one I'm not involved in!

orangepudding Mon 24-Jun-13 14:21:59
cantspel Mon 24-Jun-13 14:23:35

Your mum just needs to ignore them as i dont see why she is feeling intimidated by them just discussing the impact of the tree in their garden.
From your op they are not being aggressive towards her or doing anything to intimidate ie staring, shouting over fence. So just ignore.

What type of tree is it and how near the house as a 2 story tree could be causing alot of damage to her foundations

KobayashiMaru Mon 24-Jun-13 14:23:41

I'm pretty sure they can talk about what they like in their own garden, in much the same way as your ma can have what trees she likes in hers.

ah ok, just sounded very similar to a debate between 2 of my neighbours regarding decking and a tree and we back onto a residential home, obvously quite a common problem then.

curryeater Mon 24-Jun-13 14:28:36

Imtoohecsy, does she really need to trawl the expensive vintage shops of Shoreditch for a Walkman which will cost and incredible amount of money, and then somehow dig up the tapes to go with it? Or could she maybe just use an ipod? ;)

orangepudding Mon 24-Jun-13 14:30:15

cantspel It's a conifer, which is quite narrow at the top. It's a fair distance from the house. Where I live plenty of people have larger trees closer to their houses including me, which I assume don't cause problems.
She does feel intimidated and I would too.

I will ask her to keep a diary and then have a word with them.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Mon 24-Jun-13 14:32:06

<sob> I am obviously one hundred and eight years old.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Mon 24-Jun-13 14:33:09

Keeping a diary is a very good idea, Orange. As is going round and telling the neighbours to stop trying to intimidate an elderly lady.

Perhaps putting it as baldly as that may give them something to think about!

colette Mon 24-Jun-13 14:34:49

interesting link forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.php?t=1509022 coming from the neighbours point of view. although talking about it loudly in your mums earshot is out of order

WeAreEternal Mon 24-Jun-13 14:35:42

Tell her to build a tree house in it and sit up there cackling at them.

Po I love you for this suggestion.

orangepudding Mon 24-Jun-13 14:38:11

dita I think the decking is a red herring in this case. The tree doesn't over hang on to it. He just doesn't like the tree!

cantspel Mon 24-Jun-13 14:40:48

i live surrounded by trees. There are oaks all down one side of my house and next door has a huge scotch pine and the roots are no problem.

i removed a huge connifer as i was worried about the roots. Connifers have a shallow root system rather than a tap root and can cause problems with your drains and drainage. The roots will follow the water and grow in soakaways and drainage pipes and even soil pipes. Not a risk i was willing to take.

BlackeyedSusan Mon 24-Jun-13 14:46:50

next time you ae there.. and the neighbourrs complin. compliment your mother on the leylandii splings she has bought nd sy tht they will grow veryr fast and she can block out the noise of complaining neighbours... grin

Branleuse Mon 24-Jun-13 14:48:10

ask them to stop making loud obvious passive aggressive comments in the garden and upsetting your mum. The tree was there before they were and she likes it.

currywurst3 Mon 24-Jun-13 15:27:06

Get some stink bombs and download an mp3 of fart noises. They'll soon go back inside.

You need some Cunting Bunting.

JustinBsMum Mon 24-Jun-13 17:58:33

They sound unreasonable if the tree isn't overhanging.

Buy your mum a tinkling fountain/waterfall/pond arrangement. They are recommended for gardens as they can cancel out traffic noise but I bet they can also cancel out voices! smile

charitygirl Mon 24-Jun-13 18:02:52

There are some conifers that I would be deeply unhappy to have growing next door, but as you say, they viewed it like that!

TimeofChange Mon 24-Jun-13 18:35:35

Wind chimes can be annoying.
Buy some for your Mum.

OP: How old is your Mum?

cantdoalgebra Mon 24-Jun-13 18:51:08

I have a theory that there are some people who just don't like anything growing over about four or five feet high. My local self styled tree/hedge police complain about the hedge on one side of my property, even though it does not back onto any other garden or building, and is not overlooked by anyone. It is, however, six feet high.... I am repeatedly asked when I am going to tidy/cut it....... for when I have visitors .....! My blood pressure suffers accordingly.

TSSDNCOP Mon 24-Jun-13 19:03:36

Po grin

OP tell DM to aim big with her plans!

Oldraver Mon 24-Jun-13 19:13:21

If they want your Mum to cut the tree down then they certainly are going the wrong way about it, bullying behaviour will get them nowhere.

Though, do they have a case for it being trimmed ? My (new) next door neighbours have a tree that is 30 foot from the house and twice as high as the roof (bungalow height). Its never been trimmed in all the years we have lived here and now cuts out all light from about 2-3pm. We will have our own tree pollarded late this year and I hope they would do the same. I'm not too sure if I would ask them to do it though.

MyBaby1day Wed 26-Jun-13 03:18:11

LifeOfPro grin

TheRealFellatio Wed 26-Jun-13 06:36:17

This is a tricky one. I feel torn about my answer and this is why: (long, sorry)

I bought a house that had loads of massive trees at the bottom of the garden. They were at least 50-60 years old or more, they pre-dated my house, but were incorporated into my plot iyswim, and they most certainly predated the new housing development had been built at the opposite side of my garden about ten years before I moved in.

Those houses all had gardens that were constantly in the shadow of the trees, which had had TPOs placed on them before the houses were built. The residents were constantly ganging up and petitioning me (and the previous owner) to pollard them severely every two years at my own expense. hmm They gave all sorts of reasons about roots, safety, falling branches etc, but the bottom line was they just wanted sunnier gardens, without any falling leaves, and to be honest I couldn't blame them - so would I! They all had typically small, new build postage stamp gardens, whereas my garden was massive so the trees at the end did not bother me.

The previous owner had warned me that this would be an issue, so when they all came mob-handed a couple of months after I moved in, I took legal advice and told them that as I had the appropriate insurance and I understood that I had a duty to check the trees periodically to make sure they were not about to fall over, I was quite comfortable with the potential 'risk' and my position re: liability.

As far as their rights to have more sun in their gardens went, well they had none. The trees were already extremely mature when the houses were built - no-one would have viewed those building plots and not understood what they were buying into.

I said that I was happy to have the trees pollarded by a qualified surgeon of my choice every three years or so, but that they must club together to pay for it all, I would not pay a penny, as it benefitted me not a jot, and I had no obligation to them whatsoever. They agreed to this. All good. To be honest I think they already knew all this from the previous owner, but they were hoping as I was new I would be uninformed, and be a soft touch. Wrong.

However, I must say that nothing annoys me more than people who plant potentially large trees in inappropriately small gardens, or in inappropriate positions that will one day impact negatively on a neighbouring property. (not the case with my trees as it had been fields/woods before the houses existed.)

Not talking specifically about your mother here, but hypothetically/generally:

It is selfish and short-sighted to do this. If you have a biggish garden and you choose to plant a tree on or near the boundary in a place that will have more of a negative impact on your neighbour than it has on you, then that is just rude imho. and even worse if you've chosen a tree that will ultimately be too big for your garden, especially if you've put it near a boundary.

When I lived in a semi my NDN once planted a lilac tree slap bang down the (invisible) unfenced boundary between our two houses, about five feet from both our front windows. Luckily we both moved before it became large, but if I had wanted to stay then within about 10-15 years I would not have been able to see out of my own front window. hmm

The roots can suck all the life and the moisture out of the soil making it impossible for them to cultivate any plants of their own, they greatly reduce the life/effectiveness of boundary fences or walls, and they get under the house or shed and cause problems etc. The neighbours have to live in a shadow not of their choosing but of yours, and they constantly have to pick up leaves that don't belong to them. They are entitled to prune off any overhanging branches but then they risk looking at a lopsided awful looking specimen, and you end up sulking with them for wrecking your tree. confused Of course if you got a TPO on it you can prevent them from even doing that very regularly or easily.

As to the question of 'rights' and 'fairness' and the fact that the tree was there before they moved in - well yes I see that point - sort of. But the tree was presumably not there before either house was built, and did not have a TPO on it preventing removal once it clearly became a poorly positioned pain in the neck. (if indeed it is.)

I am not going to say YABU, because obviously I don't know the exact size and positioning of the houses/gardens involved, or the positioning of the tree in relation to the neighbour's boundary, but if they can hear your mother coming into her garden and she can hear them talking about it, then I am going to assume we are talking about smallish gardens and an annoyingly large tree. If it is genuinely not impacting on them at all, and they just don't like looking at it, then I'd say YANBU and they can get stuffed.

But if it is impacting on them negatively in a way that it tangible and understandable, then I'd say perhaps they have a point. If your mother planted an ill-judged choice of tree, or perhaps a great tree but in an ill-judged position, then whilst she doesn't have to do anything about it, it would be nice if she would consider it.

But conifers don't respond well to pruning = it would look awful. It would probably have to be removal or nothing. Maybe she could agree if they paid for it.

(only if there is a case for her being at fault and them being genuinely inconvenienced though.)

Altinkum Wed 26-Jun-13 07:09:48


They have no right to light, only in very extreme circumstances will a tree be felled due to "right for right".

Yes he proberly will get some zapp of the trees however a quick jet wash and all will be gone.

He brought a house knowing the circumstances.

middleagedspread Wed 26-Jun-13 07:15:39

I've read this thread & can't see, what type of tree is it?

I can see both points of view, it's a tricky one.

We've recently had an enormous Yew pollarded. It was blocking a lot of light in the garden but we didn't want to have it felled. It's now a lovely shape & we have much more light.
Could you have a tree surgeon come & make an assessment, with the agreement that any thinning will be at the neighbours expense?

pianodoodle Wed 26-Jun-13 10:39:16

It's probably just me but people being rude when they don't need to be automatically gets my back up whether they are "right" or not.

I'd be as stubborn as a mule under your mum's circumstances for that reason alone.

PeterParkerSays Wed 26-Jun-13 10:56:35

Sorry, but this would really get my back up. Could you take a wander down your mum's garden next time you're there, and shout back to her in the house "so where are you going to have the 3 new conifers then?" just to spite the fuckers.

If the neighbours comment, say "well mum loves the one she has, because it affords her so much privacy, so she's looking at getting a few more along this fence. Or would just the one be enough do you think?" [glare]

DeWe Wed 26-Jun-13 11:23:07

We lived in a house with a huge oak tree in our tiny garden. The oak predated the estate and had a preservation order on it.

The neighbours offered half to get it trimmed.
When the tree preservation chap came round, I tentitively asked about it being removed-it was 2m from the house and double the height of the house. The chap said it should never have been left to grow so close to the house but, the situation was that if the tree was removed the roots would then shrink and would be at risk of causing subsidence to our houses. So we back tracked on that idea grin

We had it cut to the maximum the preservation order would allow and I never realised how much difference it made. It was lovely! We had light in the garden, not as much tree bits all over the garden (we used to get 12+ bag loads of leaves and debris each autumn from the tree alone). Both us and the neighbours were very happy.

It was a beautiful tree, a fine example, but a genuine case of not in my back yard! I wished we could have transplanted it in a park because it would have been lovely there.

quoteunquote Wed 26-Jun-13 12:45:15


read up on tree law on this site, and ask questions to the experts,

They are bulling, tell her to plant more,

If they want to be tree free, suggest the sahara desert for their next move.

LandaMc Wed 26-Jun-13 12:55:50

Your poor mum. These people are obviously bullies. Asbothers have said your mum is totally in the right and shouldn't change tree. I like the idea of getting a tree presvation order (though might be worth checking that neighbours aren't asked for comment!)

Sadly being in the right isn't much comfort to your mum. She has two options: ignore their behaviour and hope they eventually get bored of it, or someone confronts them over it - you? The end result you want is better behaviour from them so any confrontation would need to be manipulative rather than righteous, however righteous you may feel! Eg trying to guilt trip them by saying mother's health is poor and she's feeling harrassed and saying that she's probably misunderstood soething she overheard but for the sake of her health perhaps they could not talk about the tree when she's in the garden as it's like a child to her (try not to vomit while sucking up!). Some bullies back down when confronted, but it's also possible that they'd scent victory and just start behaving even worse.

Bottom line is probably that she has ar**holes next door and can't change that...

LandaMc Wed 26-Jun-13 13:01:58

Your poor mum. These people are obviously bullies. Asbothers have said your mum is totally in the right and shouldn't change tree. I like the idea of getting a tree presvation order (though might be worth checking that neighbours aren't asked for comment!)

Sadly being in the right isn't much comfort to your mum. She has two options: ignore their behaviour and hope they eventually get bored of it, or someone confronts them over it - you? The end result you want is better behaviour from them so any confrontation would need to be manipulative rather than righteous, however righteous you may feel! Eg trying to guilt trip them by saying mother's health is poor and she's feeling harrassed and saying that she's probably misunderstood soething she overheard but for the sake of her health perhaps they could not talk about the tree when she's in the garden as it's like a child to her (try not to vomit while sucking up!). Some bullies back down when confronted, but it's also possible that they'd scent victory and just start behaving even worse.

Bottom line is probably that she has ar**holes next door and can't change that...

Why on earth did they buy the house if they felt so strongly about this tree? Some people!

charitygirl Wed 26-Jun-13 22:06:51

Good post Fellatio.

Beaverfeaver Wed 26-Jun-13 22:09:43

Maybe they should have thought about the tree before building an extension.

If its that big the extension boundary would have to be far away from it anyway so not to affect roots and subsidence.

If its too close its their fault.

Trees should not be cut down.

Big trees are wonderful things.

Tydna Thu 27-Jun-13 19:27:42

Complain to them, ingenuously, that you are finding communication with your mum difficult since she became deaf. Inform them that she is stubborn and won't wear her hearing aid. wink
Hopefully they will realise that they have been wasting their time hurling comments over the garden wall.
I hope she learns to ignore their bullying.

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