getting on with the neighbours

My neighbours on all three sides (or 2 sides and bottom of the garden) have been offended by my garden at different times. None of them likes me to plant near the boundary wall, and all are concerned that the wall may be undermined. All of them, by the way, claim that the dividing wall belongs to them. (I'm not arguing!) One of them even asked me rudely to control a Virginia creeper inappropriately planted next to a six foot wall. I did so and investigated talking it out, only to discover that it was actually planted in her garden! I took over the garden seven years ago and did not actually plant the ivies or the small tree at the bottom of the garden (which seeded itself). I have taken down most of the ivy and have planted climbers and herbaceous plants along the boundaries, keeping shrubs largely for the front boundary and areas where they are not a problem to neighbours. I want green boundaries to my small garden and the tree provides welcome privacy from the houses behind, without taking all their light, (though I do realise that it may prove too much of a problem in the future.) My garden seems to me transformed, a green oasis among bare and neglected gardens, and I can't understand why anyone would object to seeing beautiful greenery over their wall. Any comments or advice?



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,722

    What a horrid situation - you have my sympathy.

    When we moved here 11 months ago we discovered that over the previous 20+ years the garden here had been increasingly overtaken by ivy and huge conifers, due to the poor health of the elderly couple who lived here and who had previously been keen gardeners.  I've seen photographs of the house covered with ivy, which was removed and the house repaired by the last owner.  However all he did in the garden was lop the conifers, mow the grass occasionally and give the ivy on the fences an annual strim.  Within a week of our moving in here the weight of heavy rain in the ivy brought fencing crashing down -  I went around to tell the neighbours and apologise with some trepidation.  Fortunately they understood that it wasn't our fault and it was certainly a novel way of getting to know them as we all removed 3 skips full of ivy and rotten fencing and dug out the roots.  The neighbours on one side accepted responsibility for replacing their fence - saying they'd wanted to do it for years but it hadn't been worth it until there was someone living here who wouldn't let the ivy run rampant again.  We replaced the fencing at the back and the other side - this involved builders digging out and rebuilding a retaining wall as the garden to one side is lower than ours.  In all we spent getting on for £3,000 on new fencing and walling!  

    Our neighbours are happy for us to grow roses clematis and honeysuckle etc against their fence, but we have promised that we will not plant ivy or Russian Vine (yes, there was some of that there too, and reaching 25 feet into a tree).

    So you'll see,  I do understand that your neighbours might well have fears of something similar happening in the future.  Is there any way you can invite them over to your side of the fence (maybe a little informal neighbourhood 'Open Garden' with tea and scones, and selling a few cuttings etc for a local charity?)  so that they can see that you 'garden' and control your plants and don't intend to just let them run riot?  After all, from their side of the fence all they can see is greenery looming and if they've had bad experiences in the past ... 

    Good luck image

    A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in - Greek proverb 
  • gardeningfanticgardeningfantic Posts: 1,019

    i have neighbours on both sides who do not bother with their gardens or their boundaries.. one side who dont like spending money where they should.. decided they wanted a taller fence at the bottom of the garden.. so instead of taking out their small 4ft fence and replacing it with the 6ft one.. t hey left the 4ft one in and put the new one 1 ft isnide the boudnary line.. and then telling us we could have the other fence now!!! what a blooming cheek.. they also moan about our fence up the front with is concrete posts and trellis panels (full panels get blowndown every year with high winds.. know from experience and cost) so these work. they are 5ft high and the wind blows through them.. but no they dont like it and want us to change it.. i have said no. 

    Now the other side have a 7ft high fence that is only held up by my bay hedge.. they have huge bushes and trees that are unkept pushing it out onto our garden.. i have told them but the do nothing.. their leylandi are tall and take all out light from the house and have aksed for them to be cut down.. still no.. have aksed at council and they will go and check them for hieght and light reduction but will cost me £350 for the priviledge!! so i leave it.

    So gardening grandma i can see where they coming from.. but to also be fair i feel that you are entitled to grow what you wish on your boundary walls and in your garden.. you are responsible for making sure they dont get out of hand and effect  your neighbours.. but that still there is no law against what planting on your side you can have and not have..and the only rule on 6ft high is on solid fencing and not green (leylandi an exception thou) i think some of it may be jeaslousy as yours looks better than theirs.. you are doing nothing wrong by planting trees.. thou i maybe try to keep 5ft away form boundaries especially if near the houses as the roots can cause problems for foundations.. they say a trees roots go out 3 times further than the canopy.

    to be honest i do not think you have to answer anything to them.. do you go on at them  bout their gardens at all.. no.. you let be and just do yours.. you just plant your shrubs and have your garden how you like.. keep it cut back so it doesnt inproach on theirs and that is all you need to do.

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,135

    Gardening Grandma, Funerals Weddings and Boundaries the cause of more wars than Politicians.
    Brick walls I take it you must have an older property and to my cost I do know trees seemingly far from a wall can cause problems with root disturbance, but that is trees not bushes.
    The garden is yours to do with as you please even sunbathe nude if the walls are high enough. I would wonder about their claim to own the walls as my deeds state exactly what my boundaries are and who owns which fence. I own the South and half the West fence, the North fence belongs to my neighbour. He once argued with me about a short wall I built to hang a gate, it was on his land? I had my deeds so got them out and proved him wrong. He then asked me to remove my hanging pots from his fence, I did, six months later it blew down and he asked me to go halves, he got a simple no and not the reply he deserved. Luckily he moved on.
    My neighbour to the South a young lady living on her own asked me when i said I was renewing the fence if I would keep it low as she loved looking at my garden I said yes although there would be the odd high bush, the people at the back also said would I keep it low, they are good gardeners as is my southern one but she can only do a plain garden as she works hard.
    If you put in posts on your own land six inches in say then hung what ever climbers you wished on it they have no come back,  Ignore them and do as you wish on your own plot after all you paid for it not them.


  • When i moved to this house there was ivy 18 inches deep on all the back fences ( 3 sides to my garden) No one had bothered with the garden and neither had the neighbours. It took 6 trips to the tip to get rid of it all and when replacing our fences we dug it out. Neighbour to one side has a prolific grape vine it has taken 2 years of asking but he has finally cut back the trunk that was leaning on in and around my fence. How long did it take him? 10 minutes. Have you heaed the saying good fences make good neighbours. Luckily our friends bought the house the other side and all is well with the gardens swapping plants and produce when we have extra.

  • Tim BurrTim Burr Posts: 344
    You can do what you like in your own garden, as long as its legal!! Unless the trees in your garden constitute a hedge (two or more trees or shrubs may be considered a hedge), it can grow all it likes. If it is a hedge then, before they can do anything in terms of actions against you, they have to ask you nicely to reduce them in height before they can complain to the council who may (I say "may"), subject to their own investigation, then compel you to reduce the height to a minimum height of 2m, which then must be maintained at that height for perpetuity. However, the council may decide on your side. In terms of damage to walls - is there any proof the wall is currently being undermined? Also, your neighbours can quite legally cut off roots that appear on their land, however, they must not kill the plant. They can also cut off over hanging branches but they must offer these back to you (or throw them in your garden), and again, they cannot kill the plant.

    I seem to recall the maximum fence height without planning permission is 6 foot, and anything heigher (certainly a completely solid fence) requires planning permission. Im sure somebody will correct me if I am wrong.
  • Thanks for all your interesting and helpful replies. My walls are all solid breeze block, some neat, some decrepit and all hideous. We have put fencing or trellis in front of most of them. I feel we have been considerate and polite - unlike some of our neighbours. I think in law, the wall to our left belongs ito us, but our elderly neighbour says that when it was very broken, he paid to rebuild it and so it is his. We haven't quarrelled with anybody (although it would have been easy) but wonder whether we have been inconsiderate inadvertently. As you say, Palaisglide, boundaries cause wars! I did invite one set of neighbours around to discuss issues, and they came, but they were not won over, I think partly because I was already annoyed at some rudeness and tried to be nice and came across as patronising. From your replies, I can see that we are not the only ones with problems and wish you well with your continuing relationships with the neighbours!

  • daituomdaituom Posts: 83

    Grandma, they are just trying to bully you. You are the newcomer so you have to do what they say. Yeah,right. Keep your garden tidy and the plants under control and there is nothing they can do. If they keep on harrassing you get a restraining order out.

  • AtillaAtilla Posts: 1,493

    Actually Tim Burr the 2m guide is for new hedges, not established ones (ie before 2006) and it is for the affects of a hedge over 2 metres, not the height itself. Say a hedge of 2.5m - the council will only investigate the affects of the 50cm over the 2 metres.

  • Poppy RedPoppy Red Posts: 26

    Your garden is your property and as long as you are doing nothing illegal or damaging to your neighbours garden you can plant what you like in your garden.  I would suggest though that you find out definately which are your boundaries/fences and then if the harrassment continues seek legal advice.

  • MuddyForkMuddyFork Posts: 370

    The 2m guide also only relates to evergreen hedges.  I back onto farmland and can do nothing about the hedge my 'kind' farmer planted and then failed to cut except trim back the side.

  • donutsmrsdonutsmrs Posts: 448

    We are very luckly where we live, our neighbours both sides keep their gardens looking nice. I feel so sorry for you Grandma I do know what it is like to have difficult neighbours as we have had a neighbour from hell in the past. (thank goodness they have gone). As for your dividing boundary walls, if they keep saying it belongs to them, then fine, because when it needs repair they will be the ones to  pay for it. I only have a small garden and a nearly all of my plants are in pots even two Laurels which have been in pots for over ten years and they grow so well with a little love and attention. I do hope you can sort it out. Why do some people have to be so nasty, and where is the point in them arguing it will get them no where in the end all it will give them is raised blood pressure. Good luck.

  • LokelaniLokelani Posts: 112

    It is difficult, our garden is 200ft or more long, but only about 40ft wide, so our neighbours decisions can really affect us.

    From under the fence on one side we keep inheriting bindweed, ground elder, brambles & bindweed from the other! Also ivy galore, invasive bamboo runners & lilac runners. They let tree saplings grow right next to the fence that lean on it & have cast the area where the greenhouse was (I gave up on that one) into total shade. The trees shot up & now take all the moisture out of the borders that side.

    When I spoke to them very nicely about the bamboo & trees they clearly didn't care, just said feel free to cut what you like that leans over your side (like I need any more heavy gardening jobs!).  From the front of their borders their garden looks tidy & that's all the care, they don't even tend it themselves. We don't feel we can ask again as they clearly just don't care, same as the loud music spoiling our peaceful garden all the time. It shocks me how inconsiderate people can actually be, even living in a fairly rural area.

    So although we do own our gardens & can do what we like with them, I really think a little consideration of how our decisions affect others doesn't go amiss, particularly near the boundaries. 

    As for deeds showing who owns the boundaries, ours don't. Older properties don't always show it & both neighbours would say they do when it suits them & not when it doesn't! 

  • LovetogardenLovetogarden Posts: 755

    Blimey!! what a miserable, awkward lot of neighbours some of you have to live near. I feel sorry for you, it must be awfulimage. We only have immediate neighbours on one side who are excessively tidy, can't bear anything green to appear in their garden that grows above a foot high, and don't use there garden for pleasure.image. To the side of us and immediately behind we have land that was once a lovely old orchard full of wild life.. When the owner died it was clear and left to do it's own thing. Consequently we now have thistle seeds by the thousands that drift onto our garden, we are always having to pull them up. On the brighter side we have a lot of birds that feed on the seeds and at least we are not overlooked or bothered by other people. The man who now owns the land will clear the brambles etc away from our fences if we ask him to do so. The question of boundaries is a tricky one, no one seems to know which belongs to them and only find out when things go wrong.

  • AtillaAtilla Posts: 1,493

    The trick is too not let things bother you. On saying that I am not too happy that my neighbour painted my fence. They declined to pay for it last year and it is entirely on my side of the garden (they had dug a small ditch as a boundary). Went to the shops on Saturday and came back to find 90% of it painted in their orange stain, so will have to use a darker stain to cover theirs this weekend! Oh the joy...

  • Hi grandma. Unfortunately, not everyone likes greenery. What might seem reasonable to you would look envasive to your neighbour. They were probably at breaking point with the previous owners when you came along. As for them owning the fence, let them have it. When it needs repairing then they will foot the bill. Just make sure you keep your plants under control and not let them hang over to their side, or cut off their light and you should be right. I always say if someone complains, there is always some cause behind it. Hope this helps to keep the peace.
  • jo4eyesjo4eyes Posts: 2,032

    Gardening Grandma- I'd certainly establish whose fence belongs to whom. Then legally it's the owners' responsibility to maintain, or not, their property.

    We have spent a lot of money over the years maintaining our boundaries. Two back onto non-maintained council 'wild' land, ie now a sycamore grove. A 3rd is an alleyway fence, leading to the land. The fence is our property.

    The remaining fence is jointly owned by us & our immediate neighbour. Next to this fence was a mature Crimson King Acer, planted by the original owner of our house, much loved by us & well maintained by a good tree surgeon in the last few yrs. However any overhanging branches from it, & an adjacent Magnolia, used to 'go' every time we went on holiday, without any request, nor returning  of the debris. This obviously resulted in lop-sidedness of both trees.

    Last yr this neighbour started to grumble in the Spring about the leaves that would fall onto her new patio & lawn, from the Acer. (The magnolia was felled some yrs back, as repeated pruning of them doesnt lead to a good looking tree.) So reluctantly I decided that the Acer should also be felled, which it was in the early Autumn.

    It was sad, but the resulting light in the garden, as it was on the South boundary, has been a revelation, even in such a non-summer as this year. I shall miss the extra leaf mould it eventually gave me, & the beautiful outline of the bare branches in the winter, but have no regrets. I know that I stubbornly kept that tree when it was a real case of 'right plant, wrong place'. I had almost 30yrs enjoyment from it & a lot of neighbour hassle!

    So I'd advise you to carry on gardening, but be mindful of any possible damage to their property from your plants/trees. Your garden is yours to enjoy & you never know they may even come to appreciate it too. J.

  • Alan4711Alan4711 Posts: 1,569

    Hi all, this neighbor lark can get quite  messy by the sounds of all these messages on site , iv just bought a  house in Tenby and wonder does anyone know of any site one can get rules and regs on fences and planting etc, i feel forewarned might be of use as we could have one or two of these probs in the future maybeimage

    so good luck


  • is a site you might consult, Alan. We have now, regretfully, taken down the tree at the bottom of the garden. When we did, the neighbour said, 'What a shame!  It was a beautiful tree!' As Jo4eyes says, the improvement in the amount of light is striking, but we are again looking at the houses backing on to ours. We have a young buddleia (which I grew from a seed) growing a few feet from the boundary and, in time, this will do quite a lot to break the eyeline and give more privacy. In general, I don't think we have given our neighbours any cause for complaint. Some people seem to like their gardens free of anything much except paving and grass and don't like to see plants over the wall, either. Inexplicable! Thank you all for your responses - it was interesting to read them all.

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