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Before going to trim back branches or pick up fruit from the ground, the legal experts at BPP University Law School have shared the six things that could get you in trouble with the law while preparing the garden for spring this year. Gardeners should be aware of the laws when it comes to gardening otherwise they could land themselves in “conflict” with neighbours.
1. Fruit theft
The experts said: “It may sound strange, but it’s true. If you find fruit in your garden that has fallen from a tree belonging to your neighbour, they have the legal right to ask for it back.
“Not only this but removing said fruit and keeping it would count as stealing. If you want to avoid this, the best solution is to return the fruit as soon as you find it – and avoid simply throwing it back into their garden.”
If you throw the fruit back into their garden without them knowing, it could be seen as garden waste fly-tipping or littering.
2. Trimming branches
It can be tempting to go and cut down lots of branches and bushes which may have overgrown throughout the winter months, but gardeners should be careful when doing this.
The pros noted: “You may find that they are blocking those warm spring sun rays from coming through. While this can be frustrating, you cannot simply hack off the branch of a tree if it doesn’t belong to you.
“Despite this, you are, in fact, allowed to cut branches up to your property line – which is essentially where your garden ends and your neighbours’ begins.”
To avoid conflict, it is always better to ask first before cutting down branches, or ask if they can do it on their side too.
3. Planting trees
Spring is a great time to start planning what to plant in the garden, including trees. However, the experts said gardeners will need to “think twice” when planting any type of tree.
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They explained: “If your neighbour has had natural light accessible via a window for 20 years or more, you are not allowed to block it under the Right to Light Act.
“It is therefore always wise to plant trees and bushes out of the way of windows that do not belong to you, to avoid any confusion.”
Instead, focus on adding potted plants to the patio or a climbing plant up some trellis, as long as it is maintained.
4. Asking neighbours to clean their leaves
If Britons have already started to spend more time in the garden getting it ready for spring, they may want it clean and tidy, which ultimately falls on them if the mess is in their garden.
Neighbours are under no obligation to clean up any leaves which may have fallen into your garden from their trees over winter.
While it may be tempting to ask them, to avoid conflict, invest in a leaf blower or a rake to clean up the mess.
5. Taking flowers from neighbours
The legal experts continued: “Certain trees come equipped with very pretty flowers which, in the heat of the moment, you may feel the urge to take as your own.
“While the flowers may have already fallen or may be able to fall from the tree, your neighbours still have every right to ask them for back – just like with fruit.
“So instead, try ordering bright spring seeds, bulbs, spades and gardening gear yourself, and get planting.”
6. Taking land disputes into your own hands
According to the pros, this subject often tears more neighbours apart than anything else. They said: “Spending time in your garden more often as we head into spring, can lead to thoughts on topics such as ‘should my neighbour’s fence be that close to my house?’.
“Or ‘is that genuinely where the boundaries between houses are?’. Unfortunately, as boundaries can actually move over the years, this kind of confusion can usually only be settled by contacting HM Land Registry.”
Following all of these garden laws means Britons can avoid any conflict with nearby residents, meaning they can enjoy the spring and summer in peace.
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