If there is a tree on your property that is a nuisance or a threat to safety, there are several options available to remove it; however, you often need to obtain permission to do so due to state regulations.

As we all know, trees are vital to our environment and we risk great harm if too many trees are cut down. Therefore, you cannot just grab an ax and start hacking away.

The process for removing a tree is not necessarily a difficult one. There might need to be a special permit or a request and granting process to go through however. This is due to regulations for preservation or to comply with city ordinances, such as with utility lines.

Each state has their own laws in regards to cutting trees down and you will need to consult with a professional tree removal service to have the work done.

To understand what the state of New Jersey requires for tree removal, here is a guide.

  • In the state of New Jersey, municipal laws are getting stricter on the rights to cut down private property trees.
  • Currently, you need a city permit in order to have a tree cut down. Permits for tree removal can be obtained at your city hall or municipalities building.
  • In some cities and townships, you will need an inspector to come out to the property to verify the request to have a tree cut down.

Protecting trees is what local municipalities are setting forth to do. While it can be an extra step in the process, we want to ensure that trees are not being cut down for any apparent or appropriate reason.

Big Foot Tree Service is a professional tree care service that can help you with your tree care needs, whether it is obtaining a permit, tree removal or stump removal. Contact us to learn more about what we provide our customers.

Do I need permission to cut down a tree in my garden?

If the tree has a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) placed on it then you will need permission from the council to perform any works to the tree, whether that’s removing a branch or felling the tree.

A TPO is a written order created by a local planning authority such as a borough, district or unitary council or national park. The aim of a TPO is to give protection to trees that provide amenity value to the public. It is a criminal offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree protected by a TPO, or to cause or permit such actions, without the authority’s permission. If the tree in your garden can be seen and therefore enjoyed by the public it could potentially have a TPO placed upon it. You can find out if the tree has a TPO by contacting the tree officer at your local council.

To request permission to perform tree works you will need to fill in an application form and submit it to the local authority. If you live in a Conservation Area, trees in your garden are still subject to the same rules as trees with TPOs, despite not necessarily having TPOs placed specifically on them. Planning permission will override TPOs if it is necessary for a tree with a TPO to be removed for the development to go ahead. It’s also important to bear in mind that it is illegal to fell trees during breeding season as it could result in the destruction of nests.

If the tree does not have a TPO and is not in a Conservation Area then you do not require permission to fell a tree if it is in your garden. Outside of gardens, you might require a felling licence from the Forestry Commission. If you do plan to cut down your tree, please consider whether the above options will solve the issue before opting to fell it.

If you are in any doubt about the legalities of undertaking any works to a tree then look at getting in contact with your local council’s tree officer. Failing that, regional officers for the Forestry Commission may also be able to help advise you on the best way forward.

Can I cut down a tree on my land?

When buying a property, trees on the land may not be the first thing on your mind. However, the regulatory status of trees is important because it may affect your ability to prune or remove them.

Who owns the tree?

A tree belongs to the person on whose land the tree was originally planted. If branches overhang your land you are permitted (unless the tree is protected) to cut the branches back up to the boundary. You do not need the consent of the neighbouring landowner to undertake works to the tree. However the branches (and any fruit on them), still belong to the landowner and they are entitled to ask for them to be returned.

Do I need permission to prune or remove trees on my land?

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by the council’s local planning authority (LPA) in respect of an individual tree, groups of trees or woodland. The aim of a TPO is to give protection to trees that provide amenity value to the public, so if your tree can be viewed or enjoyed from beyond the confines of your garden it could be subject to a TPO.

How do I find out if trees on my land are subject to TPOs?

You can check whether a tree on your property is subject to a TPO by checking with your LPA. Some council websites show all TPOs registered within their boundaries, while others require enquiries on TPOs sent by post or email. A local search will also reveal whether a TPO affects the property. If there is a TPO affecting a tree on your property, then the LPA’s permission must be sought if to perform any works to the tree. This includes a range of works from cutting a branch to felling the tree completely.

What happens if I don’t have the correct consent?

If works are undertaken to a tree protected by a TPO without the necessary consent then a criminal offence is committed. Works that can lead to an offence include:

  • Cutting down, uprooting or wilfully destroying a tree;
  • Topping, lopping wilfully damaging a tree in a way that is likely to destroy it; or
  • Causing or permitting such activities.

The consequence of being convicted is an unlimited fine, which can have regard to any financial benefit which has accrued as a result of the offence. This is is a “strict liability” offence, meaning that you do not have to know that the tree is protected by a TPO, so it is always worth checking before works are carried out.

In addition, if there is a contravention of a TPO this is also an offence and the person in breach can be fined up to £2,500.00.

What if the tree is in a conservation area?

In addition to the TPO regime, conservation areas must also be considered. Conservation areas were created to protect designated areas of special architectural or historic interest. Trees within this area that are not subject to a TPO still require involvement of the LPA if works are to be undertaken. Notice must be served on the LPA at least six weeks prior to any proposed works or felling being carried out. This notice, as required by section 211 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, does not need to be in any prescribed form, although it must sufficiently identify the tree and outline the proposed works. The LPA then has six weeks to decide whether the tree in question should be protected by a TPO. Works on the tree should then be carried out within 2 years of notice being given.

A section 211 notice does not need to be issued where the works would be permitted under a TPO, or are being carried out under approved forestry operations or where the works are being carried out by or on behalf of the LPA. Works to small tress (less than 75mm in diameter) are also exempt from the notice requirements.

It is a criminal offence to carry out works on a tree in a conservation area where notice is required and has not been given. If a tree is removed in a conservation area without consent, the landowner is obliged to replace any uprooted tree with another tree of appropriate size and species, and if an alternative tree is not planted within four years of removal, the LPA can serve a tree replacement order on the land owner. Should a replacement order be served, and the land is sold within this four year period, then the new owner assumes liability, as landowner, to replace the tree.

Finally, if you own land that does not form part of a garden of a residential dwelling, then you will also need to consider whether a felling licence is required from the Forestry Commission. There are certain exemptions to the requirement for a felling licence, for instance lopping and topping of trees is exempt, but you should always check prior to undertaking any felling activity.

It may seem innocent enough, but picking up an apple from the ground of your own garden could put you on the wrong side of the law…

There are a myriad of little-known rules which, if broken, could turn even the most conscientious gardener into an unwitting criminal, inadvertently upsetting neighbours in the process.

Thankfully, the people at GardenBuildingsDirect.co.uk are on hand to reveal the top seven laws you need to be aware of. How many are you guilty of breaking?

1. Trimming overhanging branches

If a tree’s branches overhang into your property from a neighbour’s, you can trim them, but only up to the property line. You can’t lean into the neighbour’s garden to do this though, as that would constitute trespass.

NB: If a tree is covered by a Tree Preservation Order, you can’t cut the branches, so it might be best to check first.

Rachel HusbandGetty Images

2. Picking fruit and flowers from your neighbour’s tree

Although you can cut branches that hang into your garden up to the property line, they still belong to the neighbour – as do any flowers or fruit on them. Your neighbour is legally entitled to demand them back.

NB: Do not just throw windfallen fruit into the neighbour’s garden, as this could constitute garden waste fly tipping.

Stefanie SenholdtGetty Images

3. Making the most of windfalls

Wind fallen fruit technically still belongs to the person who owns the tree. So, if your neighbour’s apples or pears inadvertently end up on your lawn, ask for permission if you want to keep them.

James RossGetty Images

4. Sweeping fallen leaves

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but tree owners are not responsible for sweeping up fallen leaves that land on your property. Better get that rake out.

Peter Lourenco

5. Blocking other’s light

Under the Rights of Light Act, if a window has received natural light for 20 years or more, neighbours legally can’t block it with a new tree.

Getty Images

6. Creating fences and boundaries

Issues regarding boundaries can be tricky to resolve. The house deeds should indicate who owns fences and is responsible for boundaries (although there is no legal responsibility to keep boundaries well maintained, unless the deeds state otherwise). But boundaries can move over time and cause disputes later. You may need to contact HM Land Registry for help with boundary disputes.

Getty Images

7. Maintaining hedges

If a hedge grows along the boundary between two gardens, both neighbours are responsible for trimming. If a hedge belonging to a neighbour grows into your garden, you can trim it but, as with tree branches, you must return the trimmings to the owner.

Hugo Rittson Thomas

Now you’ve got your legal knowledge in order, neighbourliness can ensue, just never underestimate the potential awkwardness caused by an overhanging branch.

Laws and Regulations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine Program (USDA APHIS PPQ) and the plant health agencies in each of the 50 states, regulate the shipment of nursery and greenhouse stock in an effort to minimize the spread of harmful insects, diseases, and other pests. The Federal & State Quarantine Summaries is designed as a reference tool for nursery stock growers, brokers, purchasers, and others involved in the buying selling, and interstate transport of nursery and greenhouse plant crops.

Click on the PDF to go to each state’s summary.


State Current as of: PDF Hemp Regulations
AL November 2015 PDF
AK May 2019 PDF
AR September 2019 PDF PDF
AZ April 2018 PDF
CA September 2019 PDF PDF
CO August 2018 PDF
CT September 2019 PDF
DE April 2018 PDF
FL June 2016 PDF
GA December 2016 PDF
Guam April 2018 PDF
HI September 2019 PDF
IA September 2019 PDF
ID June 2018 PDF
IL April 2018 PDF
IN January 2020 PDF
KY January 2019 PDF
KS March 2017 PDF
LA September 2019 PDF
MA April 2018 PDF
MD September 2019 PDF
ME September 2019 PDF
MI January 2020 PDF
MN March 2019 PDF
MO January 2019 PDF
MS October 2018 PDF
MT March 2018 PDF
NC December 2019 PDF
ND July 2019 PDF
NE October 2019 PDF
NH October 2018 PDF
NJ April 2018 PDF
NM August 2014 PDF
NY January 2019 PDF
NV September 2019 PDF
OH September 2019 PDF
OK September 2019 PDF
OR June 2017 PDF
PA May 2019 PDF
PR November 2008 PDF
RI November 2018 PDF
SC June 2016 PDF
SD January 2019 PDF
TN April 2018 PDF PDF
TX August 2015 PDF
UT January 2020 PDF
VT January 2019 PDF PDF
VA December 2019 PDF
WA April 2018 PDF
WI April 2018 PDF
WV September 2019 PDF PDF
WY April 2018 PDF

Believe it or not, it may be illegal to grow your own food

The city and town names may change, but the stories are strikingly similar. Every year, new tales of urban gardeners who are cited for “illegally” growing food in their yards or on vacant lots bubble up.

One recent high profile case involves Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll, a couple in Miami Shores Village, Florida, who was told the front yard vegetable garden they’d tended to for 17 years was prohibited according to a new zoning code that banned front yard vegetable gardens. They had to dig up their plants, which supplied half the food they ate, or face $50-per-day fines.

This happened in 2013, and they’ve been fighting for the right to replant their garden ever since. Last year, the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear the case. A bill inspired by their story, prohibiting local governments from regulating residential vegetable gardens, was introduced in the Florida senate this year, but it died in the house in March. The couple still has an active change.org petition going.

Vegetable garden restrictions aren’t the only food-producing activities homeowners have come up against. Those who want to keep backyard chickens, other livestock or bees can face hurdles. Things can get even stickier if you decide you want to sell some of the food you grow.

Although there’s little research about the prevalence of front yard garden bans, disputes over home gardens aren’t going away, according to Baylen Linnekin, author of Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable. “These conflicts occur with surprising frequency around the country,” he said. “Local zoning laws—which often place aesthetic concerns over the rights of homeowners and renters to raise their own food—are almost always the culprit. As more people look to grow their own food, these conflicts are only likely to grow.”

But the benefits of urban agriculture activities are becoming harder for cities and towns to deny. Not only do gardens increase access to healthy food, they can conserve energy, lessen storm water runoff, cool temperatures and sequester urban nitrogen. They can also help foster a sense of community. And telling people they can’t grow food on their own property just doesn’t sit right with many people.

For every head-scratching story of overregulation, there are examples of lawmakers who change their tune when challenged by passionate citizens. Kansas City, Missouri, for instance, lifted a ban on “row crops” in front yards in 2010. After a dispute last year in Toledo, Ohio, over piles of mulch that an urban farmer was using to rehabilitate soil, other urban farmers in the city created the Urban Agriculture Alliance to work with the city to come up with more clear guidelines. The two sides recently came to an agreement on several issues. From now on, home gardeners will be allowed to sell produce to neighbors from small tables. Gardening structures like hoop houses and greenhouses less than 400 square feet will be allowed without a permit.

Sometimes a front yard is the only option for home gardeners who don’t have a back yard or have one that doesn’t get enough sun. Or, people may simply prefer to grow food instead of grass. There are approximately 40 million acres of lawn in the United States. Considering intensive farming methods can produce a remarkable amount of food a fraction of an acre, the potential for home gardeners to increase local food production is impressive.

Before you embark on your own front yard garden, it’s good practice to check your city ordinances, advises Linnekin. Some cities that allow gardens have rules for them, like how far a garden needs to be from a sidewalk. “Remember that even if your city or town allows gardens, you’re also subject to state and local nuisance laws, among others,” he said.

“If you’re found to be in violation of any law—gardening ordinance or otherwise—consult with a local attorney immediately to learn more about your rights,” said Linnekin. “You may be able to fight back.” There are also nonprofits, such as Institute for Justice, that may be willing to take on your case as well.

If you happen to not have a yard at all and want to start growing your own food, check out Shared Earth, our website that connects people who have land with people who want to garden or farm. Search listings and message with nearby gardeners or landowners to get started on your next garden!

Sam Wells

Trees can add significant amenity to the public environment and are often used by homeowners to provide privacy. Equally, views and sunlight are commodities highly prized by homeowners. This is reflected in the prices paid for properties with panoramic views or that are drenched in all day sun. Any obstruction of these features can potentially cause a significant reduction in the value of a property.

The collision of these competing interests means that trees often become the centre of neighbourly disputes. What options do you have when the neighbours are unwilling to trim or remove a tree that is unduly obstructing your views and/or sunlight?

The Property Law Act

The Property Law Act may provide a remedy for homeowners that find themselves in this predicament. If your neighbour’s tree:

  • poses an actual or potential risk to your health/life and/or property; or
  • unduly obstructs your views; or
  • unduly interferes with the use of your land for the purpose of growing trees or crops; or
  • unduly interferes with the use and enjoyment of your land by reason of fall of leaves, flowers, fruit, or branches, or shade or by the root system of a tree; or
  • causes any other undue interference with the reasonable use and enjoyment of your land,

you may be able to apply to the District Court for an order removing or altering the offending tree. The court’s power also extend to altering or removing “unauthorised structures” which is defined as a structure that does not require a building consent, such as a deck or a fence.


In determining whether an obstruction is “undue” the court must balance the competing interest of the parties in dispute. In most cases of this nature this requires the balancing of one neighbour’s right to privacy against the other parties’ right to a view. Generally, the court has held that there is no legal right to a view, particularly from ground level. However, where the size of the tree in question goes beyond what is required for the neighbours’ privacy, the court is more likely to make an order.

Other factors to be considered

The court will take into account whether the offending tree was in place when the complainant purchased their property however this does not prevent the court from making an order. Further, the court must (when dealing with trees) have regard to:

  • the interest of the public in maintaining an aesthetically pleasing environment,
  • the desirability of protecting public reserves containing trees,
  • the value of the tree as a public amenity,
  • any historical, cultural or scientific significance of the tree,
  • any likely effect of the removal or trimming of the tree on ground stability, the water table, or runoff.


Before making an order the court must also be satisfied that the refusal to make an order would cause more hardship to the party seeking the order than the party whose tree will be removed or altered. In most cases where the court finds that an obstruction is undue, the hardship test will also be met.

Please contact our litigation team if you have any question regarding the content of this article.

Views and Trees FAQ

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Created by FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors.

If a neighbors tree threatens to block the scenic view from your home, unfortunately, your options to keep the view are limited. Following are answers to questions which may apply to your situation.

What are my rights if a neighbors tree is blocking my view?

In most cases, aggrieved homeowners do not have any right to force a neighbor to trim or remove a view obstructing tree (see below for alternative legal options). Unless the tree is violating view ordinances, zoning laws, subdivision rules, or existing easements, homeowners have no zoning rights to light, air, or view. .

The one exception is that the neighbor cannot deliberately block your view with a structure that has no use to your neighbor.

What if my city has a view ordinance?

View ordinances have been enacted by a minority of cities that recognize scenic views as a valuable part of a home purchase. These ordinances give aggrieved homeowners the right to sue to force the neighbor restore the view by trimming or cutting down a tree.

The strength of the ordinances varies depending on the city. Some cities have adopted stringent laws that prescribe exactly what type of plants homeowners may grow, while others provide fairly large loopholes through which homeowners can plant types of trees which go over height restrictions.

You will have to research your city’s ordinance and determine the relative strength of the law as well as how your circumstances fit the law. Some ordinances require you to pay for the trimming or prescribe that you must wait until the tree is a certain distance from your home before you can sue.

If my city doesn’t have a view ordinance, what are my options to maintain the view?

The most effective strategy is not a legal one–plain neighborly charm and an open discussion about your concerns generally works best. Neighbors may be willing to plant different types of trees that may not block your view or will agree to trim the trees to keep them at a height which is less disruptive of your view.

If communicating with the neighbor doesn’t work to your satisfaction, there may be alternative legal avenues that you can pursue depending on your circumstances. The offending tree may violate other local laws unrelated to view ordinances. If your situation fits the law, your neighbor may have to trim down to this height.

If the tree is too close to power lines or streets, there are laws which require the tree to be trimmed or removed, although removal is fairly rare.

Nuisance laws are another strategy, though trees are generally not considered a nuisance. However, if a certain species of tree is harmful to other plants, property, or people (allergies), you may have a claim. Also, if there are noxious plants (such as weeds) which are blocking the view, you can force their removal.

Zoning laws that limit the height or placement of structures, fences or other features on a homeowner’s property may be of some help as well, though most zoning laws cover structures and not trees.

Can my subdivision’s Homeowners’ Association provide assistance?

Being part of a homeowners’ association (HOA) is certainly helpful in a dispute over trees and views. The HOA generally requires homeowners of the subdivision to sign a contract before the purchase of a home that details rules by which all owners must abide. Because this contract (called a Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, or CCR) is a legally binding document, you have legal ground to sue for enforcement if a homeowner violates the CCR.

HOAs may place pressure on owners to abide by the CCR, but if there is a dispute which arises from grey areas of the contract or a disagreement in interpretation of the agreement that requires court action, the HOA is not obligated to sue.

How can I guarantee my present scenic view for the future?

Before purchasing the property, you should 1) investigate whether the city has view ordinances, as well as their relative strength; 2) check whether the property has the right to unobstructed views over neighboring property (known as a view easement); and 3) if applicable, what rules concerning views are contained in the homeowners’ association’s CCR.

If you can already anticipate a problem with a view, discuss it with the neighbor before you purchase the land to gauge his amenability toward trimming or even removing the tree.

If the land has no current view easement from a neighboring property (a view easement is a written agreement by owners of adjacent property not to obstruct your view), inquire about the opportunity to purchase one, or the neighbor’s willingness to agree at no cost. Before you ask about obtaining a view easement, carefully consider what you’re willing to pay for the continuing benefit of an unobstructed view.

Get Legal Help to Answer Your Questions About Trees Blocking Your Views

Resolving a dispute with a neighbor can usually be best accomplished when you’re clear about your rights. Knowing the law can prevent unnecessary arguments and encourage a reasonable resolution. Contact a local real estate attorney to discuss your complaints and learn more about the local laws.

Houses are often built in ways that take advantage of the property’s view – the view can be an attractive feature for a property. It can be distressing when that view becomes blocked by your neighbours’ trees.

You may wonder what you can do about it, given that the trees do not belong to you. Rest assured that the law can provide some relief.

The law on removing trees blocking your view

The Property Law Act provides a remedy for people adversely affected by trees on neighbouring properties to obtain a Court order for their removal. The Court has discretion as to whether it will make the order, but can require the owner of land upon which trees are located to trim or remove the trees if they unduly obstruct the views enjoyed by a neighbouring property.

The Court’s discretion is not as wide as it may appear; there are some restrictions on the Court’s power. The Court’s discretion to make an order for removal of trees is to be exercised cautiously. The Court may only make an order if it is permitted to do so after having regard to all the relevant circumstances. The Court must consider whether the order to remove trees is fair, reasonable and necessary to prevent an undue obstruction of the view that would otherwise be enjoyed from your land, and whether a refusal to make the order would cause hardship to you, that is greater than the hardship that would be caused to your neighbours.

The restrictions on the exercise of the Court’s discretion do not end there. In determining whether to make an order, the Court must also take into account:

  • whether the trees complained of were already there when you purchased the land
  • the interests of the public in the maintenance of an aesthetically pleasing environment
  • the desirability of protecting public reserves containing trees
  • the value of the tree as a public amenity, and
  • any historical, cultural, or scientific significant of the tree.

After considering all these things, an order may be made if, in all the circumstances, “the Court thinks fit”.

Example of an order for the removal of trees

There have been many cases decided in favour of the applicant where they claim a loss of view resulting from trees planted on neighbouring properties.

Thomas v Broome (2009)

In a case between Mr Thomas and Ms Broome, 280 trees on Mr Thomas’ property had to be completely removed because 69 of the trees unduly obstructed Ms Broome’s view of the Akaroa Harbour, significantly reducing the value of the property and a further 211 trees shaded the property and interfered with access to light. The Court found that the trees served no useful purpose on Mr Thomas’ property and were of little value. The trees were to be removed and the cost of doing so paid by Ms Broome.

Welcome to The Crossword Solver


‘RELATING TO TREES’ is a 15 letter phrase starting with R and ending with S

Crossword clues for ‘RELATING TO TREES’

Synonyms, crossword answers and other related words for RELATING TO TREES

We hope that the following list of synonyms for the word arboreal will help you to finish your crossword today. We’ve arranged the synonyms in length order so that they are easier to find.

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Definition of arboreal

  • inhabiting or frequenting trees; “arboreal apes”
  • resembling a tree in form and branching structure; “arborescent coral found off the coast of Bermuda”; “dendriform sponges”

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