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Responsibilities and Obligations in Garden Maintenance

The return of fine weather means that we can enjoy the garden. It's often at this time that we realise that vegetation is gradually taking over, sometimes even beyond the limits of our fences, invading neighbouring areas. If these plants are a problem and you're tempted to use a saw and branch cutter, it's essential to start by finding out what's allowed and what's not. Take the time to understand your rights and obligations before you act. Find out more about everyone's responsibilities when it comes to pruning, tree planting and hedge trimming below.

Mobilier jardin

Take account of regulations when designing your garden

For two adjacent plots of land, each owner has the right to plant trees, shrubs and bushes as they see fit, generally in the location that suits them, provided that their height does not exceed two meters. Above this height, the law stipulates that the planting must be at least two meters from the dividing line between the two properties.

It is therefore essential to plan ahead for your vegetation and take responsibility for your decision. You have the choice of either keeping the height below two meters, for example in the case of a hedge planted along the boundary of your property, or planting them far enough away to allow them to grow without breaking the law.

With regard to the separation between properties, note that if you have a wall that is not jointly owned, only the owner of that wall has the right to grow espalier trees against it (keeping their height below two metres).

Another option is to agree with your neighbour to establish a common hedge on the boundary between your two properties. In this case, both parties will be responsible for its upkeep.

If the distances are not respected

If your neighbour's vegetation encroaches on your property, this does not automatically give you the right to use your chainsaw to prune everything.

You are entitled to cut the small branches and roots that extend over your property. You are also entitled to harvest fruit from branches that overhang your property. However, if you intend to prune the branches, you must obtain the owner's permission; you may not cut them yourself.

Exceptions are possible

There are at least three cases where it is possible to allow vegetation to grow to more than two meters, while being relatively close to the neighbouring property:

- An agreement has been made with your neighbour and you can prove it (with an authenticated document)

- the nation of "destination of the father of the family": this implies that the plantations were established at a time when the two plots of land were in fact one and the same property, thus indicating that the separation between the plots occurred after the trees were planted

- the ten-year statute of limitations: this means that more than ten years have elapsed since your plantations infringed the legal distances, and throughout this period your neighbour has not taken any legal action to demand that your trees be felled or trimmed to a height of two meters.

In the context of a particular neighbourhood

If your property borders a road, railway line or byway, other rules apply regarding planting distances. In addition, some localities may make exceptions to these rules. We advise you to refer to your local authority's regulations for precise information.

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