MAY often marks the beginning of gardening season for millions of Brits.
And with the arrival of glorious warm, sunny weather, it is a joy to get out into the garden and crack on with those jobs you have been meaning to get round to.
But don’t go reaching for that trowel just yet.
Because you may be surprised to know it is in fact all too easy to break the LAW while tending your patch.
Expensive mistakes such a pruning a tree that does not belong to you or stealing fruit can cause disputes over the garden fence.
And these arguments can result in a nasty fine and even a court case if the gardening gloves come off.
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Even for those with the best of intentions, there are vital rules to be aware of if you want to avoid getting into trouble.
So here are four of the most common infringements which can get YOU in trouble, and tips on how to avoid them.
Under the Rights of Light Act – dating back to 1959 – if a window has received natural light for 20 years or more, neighbours are not allowed to block it with a new tree.
This rule also applies to fences and new garden buildings such as summer houses or sheds.
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If you put anything up that could block light from your neighbour’s windows, they could rightly object and you will find yourself wishing you’d not splashed out on that new bamboo.
Other than that, you have the right to plant whatever you want within your property boundaries, as long as they are not an invasive species.
But, it is advisable to ask you neighbour before making major changes to your garden which could impact them.
This is because you are liable for any damage caused by plants in your garden, be that trees or hedges.
The Royal Horticultural Society advise: “It is sensible and neighbourly to consider the consequences of planting potentially large or imposing trees or hedges close to a boundary and make planting decisions to minimise negative impact.”
Perhaps the most broken law in all of gardening between neighbours, is collecting someone else’s fruit.
You cannot pick and keep fruit from someone’s else’s overhanging branches, EVEN if they are leaning into your garden.
This also applies to fruit that has dropped into your garden
By the law, you have to either leave it alone, or offer it back to your neighbour.
If you chose to either pick your neighbours fruit or gobble it up – that is considered stealing as the fruit belongs to the plant’s owner.
You may cut off overhanging branches from your neighbour’s garden on your property, as long as you do not trespass to do it.
You can also climb the tree, as long as you do not have to enter your neighbour’s garden or trespass on their land to do so.
You don’t even have to give your neighbour advanced notice of cutting down branches and do not need to receive permission – so get those secateurs out and get pruning.
But, once you have cut back branches or pruned, they should be offered back to the tree owner as it is still effectively their property.
You cannot cut back further than the boundary to prevent regrowth.
You are also liable to any damage to the tree, for instance if it dies as a result of your cutting – so go easy with the trimming.
Interestingly, if a tree base sits on the boundary of two properties, it is in fact owned by both parties.
One owner cannot perform any sort of work on the tree without the other’s permission as it is considered trespassing.
Legally, both owners are “tenants-in-common” – and decisions must be mutually-agreed upon.
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When it comes to climbers, the plant belongs to whoever’s soil it is growing in, NOT the property it is growing on.
However, you can remove it from your property’s walls as long as you do not kill it or tug out its roots from your neighbour’s garden.