Am I Responsible to Clean Up Leaves That Fall in My Neighbor's Yard?
If the tree owner allows the tree to grow so that it damages neighboring property, it would be considered an encroachment onto the adjacent property. In that instance, the tree owner would be required to trim the offending tree. A boundary tree is one planted on the boundary line itself and should not be removed without mutual agreement. Leaves which fall off and end up on adjacent property are considered a natural occurrence and are the responsibility of the landowner on whose property they ultimately come to rest. Property owners in every state have the right to cut off branches and roots that stray into their property, in most cases this is the only help that is provided by the law, even when damage from a tree is substantial. A property owner who finds a neighbor's tree encroaching must first warn or give notice to the tree owner prior to commencing work and give the tree owner the chance to correct the problem. If the tree owner does nothing, the tree can still be trimmed.
The neighbor with the branches reaching onto his or her yard has the right to trim those branches back to the property line (and pay for it himself or herself). The neighbor cannot demand that the tree owner pay to trim the branches. The neighbor cannot harm the tree, kill it, or chop it down. If the neighbor harms the tree, he or she could be liable for damages. As a general rule, a property owner who trims an encroaching tree belonging to a neighbor can trim only up to the boundary line and must obtain permission to enter the tree owner's property, unless the limbs threaten to cause imminent and grave harm. Additionally, the property owner cannot cut the entire tree down and cannot destroy the structural integrity or the cosmetic symmetry and appeal of a tree by improper trimming.