Want to remove trees on our boundary line and afraid of neighbour dispute

(38 Posts)
makemineabacardi Fri 26-Apr-13 15:29:57

I'll try to explain this as best I can. We have a large rear garden (about 130ft) which is very narrow, and at the end by our house is a row of horrible conifers, about 8 in total, that were planted too close together by previous owners, they are about 6-7ft in height and the row is about 30ft in length or so. Most of the growth is totally dead on our side due to lack of light and over enthusiastic cutting by the previous owners.

Due to their location the conifers block out the majority of light to the patio section of our garden and because they're quite wide, take up space widthwise too, so after a lot of thought I'm planning to get them cut down, and replaced possibly with a fence.

The conifers do not form the boundary with our neighbours, the boundary is made by a chainlink fence which lies behind the trunks of the trees. The trunks of the conifers themselves grow solely on our side.

However - our neighbours, who we have a 'live and let live' relationship with are very fond of the fact that these conifers give them almost total privacy (they have no neighbours on their other side). The conifers don't take up much of their space so from their point of view (if I were them) I'd be annoyed if they were taken down. I havn't discussed my plan with them and to be honest I'm afraid to as I'm expecting them to get the hump.

My husband won't go to talk to them (he's better at these things than I am) and thinks we might upset them unnecessarily by taking the conifers down. On the other hand, I hate having these half-dead trees taking up space and light in our garden when they belong to us and we have the power to remove them.

I'm rambling, but any advice?

cantspel Fri 26-Apr-13 15:57:11

cut them down and if they want more privacy they can put in a higher fence.

I would put a note through the door and let them know that on such and such date you are having the work done and sorry for any noise and promise them that everything will be left tidy at the end of the day.

lalalonglegs Fri 26-Apr-13 15:59:04

If they're only 6 or 7 ft tall and you replace with a fence, they've not really lost anything. The trees are on your side of the boundary so they can't object. I'd mention it to them and, if they start on about what a shame it would be to chop them down hmm, I'd invite them round to see how they look from your side.

If they still want to sulk then let them but, unless they trees have preservation orders, you're totally within your rights and you won't be in a dispute because it's not anything they can dispute although they may dislike your decision which is different.

PigletJohn Fri 26-Apr-13 16:06:33

you could start by sawing the tops off, to make them a sensible height. They will regrow.

You can also cut off all the brown bits. They might regrow, but more likely will leave bare trunks.

But I think you need to start by coming to an agreement of some kind within your own household.

makemineabacardi Fri 26-Apr-13 16:11:45

We tried cutting off the brown bits Piglet but they've never regrown. It just looks a mess. We do cut the tops off every year, but actually its cost I'd rather not have to have every year. And you're right - husband just can't be bothered I think, I manage the garden on my own most of the time!

I like the idea of inviting them to take a look on our side if they like them so much lala! I'm half expecting them to claim the conifers DO form part of the boundary but since the chainlink fence is there I can just point it out.

lljkk Fri 26-Apr-13 16:16:22

Give them a month notice that you hate the conifers & plan to take them down, you are not sure what to replace them with yet.

As for their privacy, nothing to stop them planting conifers on their side, no? Or they can pay to build fence panels on their side. Maybe they will want to replace the chain link fence with a solid fence.

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Fri 26-Apr-13 16:19:33

Just do it. They're your trees, you don't want them. Stuff what they think! grin

makemineabacardi Fri 26-Apr-13 16:20:10

Very true lljkk, there's actually nothing to stop us from saying we're just removing the conifers since the chainlink fence is intact, lol. But that's only about 3ft high so I wouldn't really like to leave that as is.

Things to think about I guess. smile

IdesOfMarch Fri 26-Apr-13 16:24:20

We had the same thing only exactly - except there were 21 hideous confers on our back boundary with an ugly chain link fence. No neighbours at back though, as we back onto a local park. We went ahead and had the whole lot ripped out and a smart new timber fence put up. I beg you: just get on and do it! The change transformed our garden and make it look bigger brighter and just lovely. The ugly conifers were like a green prison - horrible! If the neighbours are so keen on privacy, they can take their own decision about how they achieve that (and really, are you going to spend all your spare time gawping into the house? I think not). If they want some greenery, let them plant their own (but they should not put in leylandii, which have an act of parliament about them).

Really, it's your property and your choice.

When we had our conifers cut down, it didn't affect any of our neighbours so we just doorknocked the day before and apologised in advance for the chainsaw noise. Turns out they hated the look of the conifers too and were happy to see the back of them!

greenformica Fri 26-Apr-13 16:28:15

just mention it in passing next time you bump into them and having a catch up 'oh by the way, we are cutting the conifers down as they look do dead and awful our side. Don't worry we will stick a fence up'

TeWiSavesTheDay Fri 26-Apr-13 16:28:31

I agree, if you're putting a fence up the neighbours privacy will be pretty much the same.

I'd do the quick note explaining date of work and what the replacement will be. Don't phrase it as you inviting them for their opinion and be clear that they are your trees.

I'd hate having half dead trees blocking my light so I say go for it.

georgedawes Fri 26-Apr-13 16:33:24

I'd just remove them and give them a day or so notice that you intend to do so. It's not their decision so by consulting them you're just giving them opportunity to object, when it's not their call.

makemineabacardi Fri 26-Apr-13 16:36:15

That's great to hear Ides, I will pass on your experience to the OH. I get the impression once it's done he'll then agree that it looks much better. smile

Think I will go for the 'mentioning it in passing' approach. Friendly, but firm that this is our decision to make. smile

And the layout of the gardens means that even with the conifers gone, we still can't see into each other's houses anyway!

Thanks all. You're ace grin

Potterer Fri 26-Apr-13 16:42:30

If you do let the neighbours know you need to state facts, that you are having them removed, you don't need their permission and as it has been pointed out if they like them so much they can plant their own on their side.

Personally I like a nice 6ft fence, and then you can use that as a backdrop to plant stuff without having to worry about how high the plant grows for privacy.

Gipfeli Fri 26-Apr-13 16:57:12

An alternative, albeit expensive would be to plant another hedge in place of the conifers. We did this along the side of our narrow garden, rellacing the old and 6 ft high leylandii using 5 feet high yew bushes. Still dense for privacy, more amenable to hard pruning.

KindleMum Fri 26-Apr-13 17:04:47

I'm gearing myself up to have the same conversation with our neighbours. We've only recently bought the house and our builders have been removing various little "islands" of trees in the garden. Now they've done that, I can see that I really dislike the huge conifer that's between us and the house next door. I have introduced myself to the neighbours and they mentioned that they liked the tree...... but it's taller than either house and is with 3m of the walls of my house which is going to hit my insurance costs. A friend worried me today by saying that you don't automatically have the right to chop down trees and I know nothing about that. But it's a fairly common or garden conifer and it's on my property and even when it's gone there is still a 8 foot brick wall between us and the neighbours.

I'm nervous about the conversation though. Good luck.

georgedawes Fri 26-Apr-13 17:32:01

You can chop your trees down KindleMum as long as they don't have preservation orders on them, and as long as they're on your property.

survivingspring Fri 26-Apr-13 17:37:25

Our neighbours chopped their conifers down on our boundary line and it was terrible but mainly because they can now see directly into our house and garden. I truly hate them for doing that angry

However, if this won't be an issue and the trees are only 6/7 ft I can't see any major problem with you getting rid of them from their pov.

georgedawes Fri 26-Apr-13 17:38:33

Why don't you plant your own trees then surviving/ Surely it's up to your neighbours what they do with their own trees?

survivingspring Fri 26-Apr-13 18:16:19

I have but it takes quite a few years to get trees to a reasonable height! In the meantime nobody would buy a house like ours with almost no privacy in any room or garden due to their overlooking windows sad and I guess just demonstrates how these things can cause problems between neighbours.

georgedawes Fri 26-Apr-13 18:26:44

Well I have to say you're being completely unreasonable. It's up to them what they do with their trees! You hate them for doing something they were perfectly entitled to do? It certainly does demonstrate how little things can cause problems with unreasonable neighbours. Put up a large fence then if you want immediate privacy!

survivingspring Fri 26-Apr-13 18:34:46

It's hard but I can't describe how close they are to us and a tall fence even like the one we have put in does nothing to minimise the impact their windows now have on us and our house. I'm not being unreasonable - they were very selfish but this thread isn't about me! I just wanted to show how much these things can affect others...

Elliptic5 Fri 26-Apr-13 22:02:54

Perhaps you could take out every other one to start with smile.

Many fences are about 6ft so not much different if you replace with something like that. In any case, if they love the trees so much they can plant their own in their own garden. Or maybe you could pass yours on to them for replanting on their side of the fence. grin

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Fri 26-Apr-13 23:58:02

surviving. Why don't you pay for larger tree to be planted on your side of the fence. confused Your nieghbours are allowed to do whatever they want to their trees. (Tree preservations Orders aside). It seems very mean that you 'hate' them for chopping down their own trees.

OP I would chop the trees down without a second thought. I would let the neighbours know but I wouldn't 'ask' them.

A lot of conifers are extremely ugly. People plant them because they can be cheap and fat growing, I don't understand why as there are so many other beautiful trees to choose from.

lljkk Sat 27-Apr-13 09:11:05

Perhaps you could take out every other one to start with

This works quite badly, ime, because the roots of old ones get in way of new ones growing, then process of taking out old ones later can damage new ones. It's all or nothing usually.

lljkk Sat 27-Apr-13 09:18:50

Oh, and poplars, if you want fast growing deciduous trees. We put holly in our hedge, too, at lower levels.

georgedawes Sat 27-Apr-13 09:29:31

Let's hope the OP's neighbour isn't like surviving! For what it's worth surviving, we really don't need to visualise it. They were your neighbours trees and they really can do what they want with them.

DENMAN03 Sat 27-Apr-13 22:35:40

They may actually be pleased once its done. When I moved into my house I had a massive magnolia tree which basically took up the whole garden. I mentioned to my neighbour I planned to take it down and I had a look of horror and the tale of how it had been there 70 years! Well sorry but you try and live with it!! Anyway, I had it taken down and now she tells me how much she likes the fact that her garden is now sunny.

Dont let your neighbours dictate your life. If they want trees then let them plant their own!

KindleMum Sun 28-Apr-13 10:14:17

We bit the bullet and told our new neighbours yesterday that we will be taking down our conifer. They said they were sorry about it, but that they appreciated that it was our decision to make and that they understood our concerns about its proximity to the house and the effect on insurance premiums etc. They even said that they will allow the tree fellers access to their side of the wall if they're given notice. They couldn't have been nicer about really, despite the fact that they'd prefer the tree to stay.

lljkk Sun 28-Apr-13 10:47:46

Good to hear; MN sometimes makes you false expect the worst of people.

makemineabacardi Sun 28-Apr-13 20:25:11

Good to hear it went ok with our neighbours Kindle smile

I havn't yet approached ours and won't do for the time being - I'm actually struggling to get anyone out to quote me for removing the conifers (2 non-attendee tree surgeons in the past few days!) hmm. It does bother me that the neighbours may 'hate' us for removing them, due to the direction of our gardens (north-facing) the neighbours won't get any more light than they do now and like I say, I they will probably have a bit less privacy.

But I'm resolved now to get it done. DD (who is 2) fell over in the garden today and caught herself on the lower branches of the conifers - those things are surprisingly sharp!

Now if only I can get someone in the quote me for the work...

makemineabacardi Sun 28-Apr-13 20:26:05

*to, no the. Doh.

IdesOfMarch Tue 30-Apr-13 15:47:31

Bacardi - I found a great tree surgeon/tree felling company (which we then used to get rid of our ghastly conifers) via the RHS website. The compnay was extremely reliable and highly professional, and their quote was extraordinarily reasonable.

I only got one quote as a colleague at work had recently got seven (!) quotes for similar work; our quote was about 30% less than his cheapest, so I was very happy with them. I'd certainly use an RHS-approved company in future, having done this.

makemineabacardi Tue 09-Jul-13 13:48:11

A very very late update on this - conifers are now gone! Had a new patio put in and a replacement fence where the conifers used to be, which was finished last week. I'm very happy, garden is wider, brighter and nicer smile

Neighbours oth are not happy and are now not speaking to us. Not entirely sure why as the builders did a grand job but it might have something to do with the fact that there was a week or so between the conifers coming down and the fence going up, which co-incided with female neighbour's birthday - prevented her from having one of her large and extravagent parties I think. Either way I no longer care smile

MummytoMog Tue 09-Jul-13 15:18:42

I'd have been a bit narked off about the fence being down for a week, but then our fence was down for two weeks, and I spent the whole of it chasing my toddlers and chickens out of next door's garden....

Loathe conifers though, I've asked our neighbours repeatedly if I can take the ones in the middle of our frontage down (it's a semi) and keep getting brushed off. They're exactly as you describe, brown, manky, block the light into our front windows etc etc. I've offered to replace them with a fence/hedge of their choice but never get a straight answer.

makemineabacardi Tue 09-Jul-13 15:36:54

Well the boundary fence itself was still there - but it's chainlink and 4ft high so doesn't give the same privacy. Couldn't have been done any quicker really.

Shame about your neighbour's conifers though - who owns them?

AmurLeopard Wed 02-Oct-13 09:09:06

I'd just like to ask 'Survivingspring' how you can say that you hate your neighbours (a bit strong!) and that they have been selfish for something that they have done to their own property? The trees are theirs, and if you want tall trees to add privacy your property you could plant some yourself. Trees can cost a lot to maintain, especially ones like leylandii that are meant to be cut two or three times a year. Perhaps they couldn't afford to keep doing this. Try putting yourself in their shoes. It's actually quite selfish of you to expect your neighbours to keep trees they don't want and pay for their upkeep rather than put some in on your own side. It would be a shame to ruin your relationship with your neighbours because of something they felt they wanted / needed to do with their own trees that you were unhappy with.

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