Boundary Trees

Boundary trees are trees that cross property lines.

Ownership

The location of the trunk generally determines ownership. If two neighbors are co-owners of a boundary-line tree, they must share tree-care decision-making, expenses and responsibilities equally.

Problems

Before taking any action, be it trimming branches or seeking legal action, have a face-to-face discussion with your neighbor and try to either compromise or reconcile the issue. 

Encroaching Branches or Roots

Property owners in every state have the right to trim the branches or roots of a neighbor's tree that encroach onto their property, up to the property line, at their own expense. This right is called "self-help." However if you trim you cannot:

  • Harm the tree’s health, expose it to disease or destroy it
  • Trespass on another’s property to trim
  • Lean over the property line without permission 

Tree Disputes

If the tree is on private property, any dispute that can’t be resolved by neighbors would be a civil matter. Consult an attorney.

More Information


Much of the information on this page has been provided by Lorrie Stromme, attorney, horticulturist and master gardener, and is intended to be educational - not for legal advice. For more information about Minnesota tree laws, email the University of Minnesota Forest Resources Department or call their Outreach and Extension Tree Information Line at 612-624-3020. For Edina-specific questions, contact City Forester Luther Overholt.