Neighbors angry about man's massive tree

 Sys-Images Guardian Pix Pictures 2010 9 6 1283802876077 Leylandii-006
Neighbors want David Alvand of Plymouth, Devon, England to cut the lovely leyland cypress tree in his yard. In 2003, Alvand almost went to jail over a 12-foot concrete privacy wall that he ultimately was forced to remove. From The Guardian:
(Neighbors) have launched a formal complaint under antisocial behaviour legislation to force him to cut back the vast leyland cypress trees completely filling the front garden.

Planted in 1991, shortly after the 66-year-old moved into the area, the famously fast-growing trees – better known as leylandii and the source of countless previous neighbourly disputes, some turning violent – are now more than 10 metres tall.

As well as completely obscuring the front of Alvand's home, their higher branches overhang his neighbours' roofs, as well as the pavement.

One neighbour said: "That wall took years to sort out. It's been a nightmare. Now the trees are an eyesore – they block out sunlight and make the street look bad."

"Giant leylandii in suburban front garden incense neighbours" (via Fortean Times)


  1. These Leylandii grow like weeds and are a pain. We’ve got a bunch at the front of our house – to one side thankfully – that will be coming down shortly.

  2. Do the immediate neighbors not have the rights to trim the tree back to their property line? This is how the rules work in the US…

  3. “…and make the street look bad.”

    Right, as if it looked good to begin with. What’s wrong with a massive splash of green? I’m totally in favor of the hydrogen bomb of greenery.

    1. Right on! I hate it when people say interesting things make the area “look bad.” Should everything look like cookie cutter McVillages? Pshhaw!

  4. Fools, that thee is awesome. Nothing says privet as big tree :D + production of O2, clean air, less heat from sunlight…

    1. that is devon in the uk there is no heat problem only water problems everything is damp, the tree will make the place stink from mould and mildew.
      poor neighbours.

  5. That is so cool looking. A lot more trimming and it would be amazing. The solid mass of green to the ground is unusual for such a large tree! Trimming it up would make it look more “normal” but would also eliminate what I’m sure the guy was going for – privacy.

    Given the history, though, I can understand why the neighbors are upset. He just found a way to get the same result without breaking laws. I think it’s silly of them to push it, though; I would just live with it. (And encourage him to trim it to be a total rectangle. How cool would that be?)

    1. I think trimming it into an anthropomorphistic or animalistic shape would be even cooler, sort of like Disney World in your front yard.

  6. Human Rights court to fore him to tear down a wall? “Antisocial behavior legislation” because of trees? 20 years of harassment?

    Wow – amazing.

  7. They should trim it back to his property line and bill him for the upkeep. Seems like a reasonable compromise, a neighborly one at that.

    But no, lets go to court and make some lawyers richer because we can’t behave like proper adults. Lovely.

  8. If it poses a risk to the neighbor’s roof, trim it. If it blocks the sidewalk, trim it. Otherwise, the neighbors should mind their own business.

    I do get really annoyed when sidewalks are unwalkable due to overgrown shrubbery. I’ve even been known to file complaints in circumstances that force me off into the road. That’s a safety hazard.

  9. Trees create an envelope of higher humidity around themselves. It is not good for a wooden structure to have dense trees too close. The high humidity envelope will accelerate rot and insect populations.

  10. How is it antisocial to have an awesome tree in your yard?

    If anything, it’s forced the neighbors to be more social than they otherwise would be, since they must have interacted at least one over it.

  11. “…Now the trees are an eyesore – they block out sunlight and make the street look bad.”

    Honestly, the houses themselves are rather hideous and the tree is the most interesting part of the picture. The sunlight is blocked by the fugly suburban rows of duplexes anyways; what’s a few extra meters of tree shadow? I guess the neighbours happen to be huge fans of beige and boxy.

    These people are in dire need of greenery AND hobbies.

  12. This is not a single tree, it’s an out-of control leylandii hedge, it’ll have killed pretty much every other plant in its vicinity, the roots will be prising their way into the foundations and the sewer pipes, and the branches will be damaging the roof and rainwater guttering.
    Creatures living in it? Not so many, its a kinda hostile plant to other organisms.

    They burn nicely. Mind you, the houses would go too. That reason alone justifies cutting them down.

    1. Garbo was asocial, not antisocial.

      The whole antisocial -> asbo terminology is wack and the laws give judges way too much power, but the idea is that asocial means “isn’t part of the social order” and antisocial means “is actively agaisnt the social order”.

  13. That tree is excellent! And absolutely beautiful in contrast with those horrid little pink houses all in a row…

    In Montreal you’re allowed to trim any growth that overhangs your property line. You’re also allowed to pick any fruit, nuts, etcetera from branches that overhang your yard or public property. Some people deliberately plant fruit trees to overhang public property a bit so neighbours and pedestrians can pick fruit, which deters people from trespassing on their property to pick said fruit.

    I may be wrong, but this sounds like a case of neighbours ganging up on one individual just because they don’t like him.

  14. My eyes are so sore just thinking about it! What really bothers me is that this neighbourhood doesn’t look sterile enough… we better invoke an anti-social behaviour order on everyone who believes dirt is an acceptable ornament in a yard.

    Oh, and while we’re at it we should install some cctv cams for safety… think of the children!

  15. ….Oh and blocking out the sun? Have the people supposedly living in this neighbourhood ever been to Britain? Sun, HA!

  16. Yes you can trim back to the property line in the UK, but I doubt the neighbours can afford the tree surgeon with specialist access gear its going to take to trim the sides.

    I suspect the “antisocial behaviour legislation” is a journalist doing bad fact checking. They were on TV earlier talking about raising some money to get the council to look into this. Antisocial Behaviour laws have no cost to the complainant , but the High Hedge legislation does, which I think is the real law that will be used here.

  17. This is not an unheard of dispute:

    The Cypress’s rapid growth (up to a metre per year), great potential height (often over 20 m tall in garden conditions, they can reach at least 35 m), and consequent heavy shade which results in their capacity to cut out light, can make them a problem. In 2005 in the United Kingdom, an estimated 17,000 people were at loggerheads over high hedges, which led to violence and in at least one case murder, when in 2001, retired Environment Agency officer Llandis Burdon, 57, was shot dead after an alleged dispute over a leylandii hedge in Talybont-on-Usk, Powys.[9]

    Part VIII of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 introduced in 2005 – also known as the “leylandii law”[9] – gave a way for people affected by high hedges (usually, but not necessarily, of leylandii) to ask their local authority to investigate complaints about the hedges, and gave the authorities power to have the hedges reduced in height.[11] In May 2008, UK resident Christine Wright won a 24 year legal battle to have her neighbour’s Leylandii trees cut down for blocking sunlight to her garden.[12]

  18. Is anybody else bothered by the fact that “antisocial behavior legislation” even exists? It’s bad enough that Britain has made privacy nearly impossible to obtain, but now it’s illegal to even attempt to obtain? Madness.

    1. I got the law confused above, as its not normally referred to as the “antisocial behaviour legislation” when dealing with hedges, as most of the the rest of that act is dealing with crack houses etc. The Hedge laws are sensible, and force a compromise between neighbours, if you agree with your neighbour you can have a 100Ft hedge if you want.

      I don’t understand why people support these monsters, leylandii are a none native pest, they die back in shade and don’t regrow so the back of those shown will be dead and brown. I have trees bigger than that in my garden(Oaks), they have TPO’s on them and are protected by law. They are trees, that is a overgrown hedge.

  19. Now the trees are an eyesore – they block out sunlight and make the street look bad.

    That’s the spirit, on a concrete field of rowhouses during the age of global warming, wonderful!

    Maybe the neighbors should dig holes in their concrete and plant better choices of tree.

    Those trees are likely not just the retreat of an old person with sensibility, they are probably home to many creatures who deserve one. Also probably a bigger contribution to global cooling than most neighbors everywhere are making.

    Does Britain really stop someone from cutting a limb that overhangs their property line?

  20. I think it looks quite awesome. With an eyesore neighbourhood, as so many others have already pointed out, it certainly is an improvement. I wonder what the apartment looks from the inside, is it possible to climb that tree without too much of a hassle?

  21. As a treehugger I don’t understand people who hate trees. They are beautiful. They shade you in summer. Autumn leaves are beautiful and can be collected and used for mulch. They provide food and shelter to animals. I just don’t understand people hating them. To me a chain saw is a cry for help, like the scream of murder.

    What is wrong with those people.

  22. My neighbor complained to me about my large trees and the mess they were making on his roof and yard. I hired a tree trimming company to come in, talk to me and my neighbor, then trim the tree back to a level that was acceptable to both of us.

    If this guy doesn’t have to decency to do this, then he is just being a dick. Maybe the neighbors started it and he’s bitter, but passive aggressive retaliation isn’t good for anybody. Imagine yourself in your neigbors well shaded shoes. Time to act like an adult and take care of your damned trees.

  23. I think the tree looks absolutely amazing.

    That said, there’s no way on Earth I’d want to be his neighbour – the view out of their window now consists of about 50% hedge.

    They do indeed have the right to trim the hedge back, but as pointed out, that’s likely to be very expensive, and in a terraced house they’re still going to be left with a hell of a lot of tree right outside their door. And with Leylandi, it’s a chore they’ll have to repeat on a very regular basis.

    Besides, let’s face it, the guy’s not allowed this tree to grow for its aesthetic beauty, or his love of trees, he’s done it to annoy his neighbours. (“Privacy” can be fairly easily achieved by, you know, closing the curtains.)

    So yeah, I’m not a fan of the legislation, and I really llike the tree; but ultimately, I’m afraid I’m with neighbours on this one.

  24. There are SO many more things in the world that are more important to worry about than some old dude’s trees. It AMAZES me how much people in suburban neighborhoods take offense over what their neighbors do and don’t do with their yards.

    I used to live in a horrible, wannabe-Gestapo type cul-de-sac, where the neighbors would call the city over EVERY LITTLE THING. They would never come and talk to me, or ask me why I did certain things…nope, they just called the city. They even tried pretending that there was an HOA in our area (which I knew there was NOT), and that a few of them were the “president” and “founding members” of said fake HOA.

    I totally understand that conformity in neighborhood appearance makes things look “nice”, but I also believe that if you own a house, and you own the land it’s on, that you should be able to grow whatever you want (or choose to NOT grow things), providing that it’s not against the LAW. Home Owner Associations and neighborhood appearance regulations breed contempt and hatred, they divide people along income lines, and, well, in the grand scheme of things I just have a hard time believing they are all that important.

    Of course, as I said, I had a horrible experience with awful, awful neighbors who did not know how to mind their own business, so I’m a tad biased. :)

      1. Yes, but is it ILLEGAL to have this particular kind of tree? Is it ILLEGAL to have a tree this large so close to homes, powerlines, etc? I understand neighbors’ concerns, but I also am a huge advocate for property ownership rights.

        If the folks in the neighborhood believe that it is so dangerous for them to live next to a house with a tree (or clump of trees) that have grown to such mammoth proportions, perhaps it would be better for their entire country to outlaw these horrible trees altogether to save every citizen from certain peril.

        1. There are building regulations surrounding how close you can plant tree to houses I believe. I’d suspect that these trees can’t be doing wonders to the foundations of his, or perhaps more critically in this case, his Neighbours.

          Yes, it’s fine to grow trees, but in this case it looks like the guy’s being an Arsehole.

    1. This is along the lines of what I was thinking, too. Far from making the street look bad, it makes it look free. There’s nothing like an openly tolerated nutter to lift an area’s standing in my eyes.

  25. A quick correction: The title, the write-up, and practically everyone here referring to the “epic tree,” mistakenly assume that there is just one tree.

    However, the quoted text clearly says “trees,” plural, three times.

    It is not one tree. It is multiple trees.

  26. My guess is that this dispute didn’t become a protracted issue because a neighbor can’t afford a tree trimmer until he gets reimbursed or because Avland is purposefully antagonistic.

    I’d expect it grew from a manageable situation because the neighbors never accepted compromise and Avland hunkered down rather than encourage them with appeasement–in an instinctive, if not conscious, desire for the fractal and natural benefit of trees and their inhabitants that can’t be gained from “closing the curtains.”

    1. “…in an instinctive, if not conscious, desire for the fractal and natural benefit of trees and their inhabitants that can’t be gained from “closing the curtains.””

      It was presumably an instinctive desire for the blank characterless unnatural benefits of concrete that led him to make his first choice a massive concrete wall which was only torn down after protracted legal action?

      Meanwhile, to those suggesting that these guys live in some sort of tree averse area. Ignoring the clearly visible trees on the satellite view, it’s probably worth mentioning that this street is about 15 minutes away from Dartmoor (the largest area of open country in Southern England).

  27. Seriously? Let the man have his tree. Yes, he should have to trim the branches that go into the neighbor’s property, and the city can cut any part that covers public property, but unless his tree is interfering with the power lines he has the same rights over his garden that anyone else does. You can plant ugly flowers, he can plant an ugly tree.

    1. Yeah, I’m kind of amazed that someone hasn’t done that already (poisoned the tree). Of course someone SHOULDN’T, but I bet someone WILL.

      Switching topics, I know there’s always this delicate balancing act between individual rights of expression vs. community standards, etc. etc., but jeez is it depressing to hear people say this guy should get free rein because the neighbors’ houses are already ugly. How wealthy a neighborhood do you have to live in before you have rights worth protecting?

  28. The bloke is an antisocial A**hole. He is doing it to deliberately P*ss his neighbours off. He moved in and built a big ugly wall around his place. Ugly enough to look bad even next to THOSE houses so it must have been bad but when the council forced him to take it down he did this to get revenge. It is not one tree (which would be kinda nice) but a flock of about 10 of them and the only reason he did it was to annoy.
    He is not right in the head – one of humanity’s less pleasant throw-backs and he cannot be reasoned with.

    Go by my mantra, “Life is too short to humour mad people”

  29. We’re talking England here! Do they have any evidence that “sunlight” would appear if the tree were knocked down? Can they provide any photos showing this “sunlight” shining down within a hundred miles?

  30. Wouldn’t it just be easier for this guy to paint his windows black? (cue the song) Then he wouldn’t have to worry about the peering eyes of neighbors ever again.

    Didn’t anyone notice these things being planted the first place? Not to mention that the trees are smothering his neighbor’s homes.

    1. That satellite view shows they hate trees, of any kind. Are trees illegal in that subdivision? If not why aren’t there more trees, not less?

      1. Oh, come on. There’s what appears to be a small park just one street over, and there’s plenty of open ground a little to the east. This guy hasn’t planted these monstrous non-native plants because he’s a nature lover. More like an angry nutcase is my guess.

  31. If they really cared about not blocking the sunlight and keeping the street looking good, they would leave the tree and tear down the houses.

  32. An article in the Daily Telegraph quotes the neighbors, who say that Alvand planted 16 trees almost 20 years ago. And a friend of one of the neighbors says his friend “doesn’t like heights and the gutters are full of needles, and he can’t grow any grass or decent lawn in his front garden because the sunlight doesn’t get there.” Sure Alvand has property rights, but so do his neighbors. I hope they can work out a solution.

    If we had a neighbor who tried that here in tree-hugging California, we’d be able to force them to trim the trees back, because trees that big would shade our solar panels.

  33. It’s a rather horrible looking hedge, but the entire area looks like it suffers from a death of quality trees. All carefully manicured concrete.

    Maybe the real trees are in the back gardens.

  34. I believe that it is legal to cut any parts of a neighbours tree that come into your property… but the bits you cut off still belong to the owner of the plant so you have to offer t hem back

  35. As someone not living next to massively overgrown leylandii, I can objectively say that those neighbours complaining about the trees are overreacting killjoys.

    They are therefore not as liberal as me, and I feel superior to them.

    In fact, they deserve this to happen to them, because they’re close-minded and live in ugly housing, and global warming means they shouldn’t be allowed to care about this sort of thing anyway. Fascists.

    1. If this guy was so intent on privacy why did he move into a semi-detached house or a terrace estate? Yes he’s entitled to privacy and his garden is his own property but there are limits, restrictions and plain old codes of decency when it comes to terraced and semi-detached neighbourhoods.
      Couldn’t this old fool have moved into a freestanding cottage somewhere with no neighbours within several metres of him? Then the dickhead could plant what he liked as it wouldn’t be screwing up other peoples’ view, sunlight and foundations.
      People are mocking these houses as being plain and ugly. Well, folks, maybe these houses are all these people can afford and they are entitled to whatever comfort and stress-free time they have without some old wanker spoiling their peace with this abomination of a thing. This tree or cluster of trees would, yes, look beautiful in a park or somewhere but not in this clown’s garden. And to all you eco-warriors who are lauding the tree’s merits in this time of global warming I would say this to you…would it be ok for me to erect a huge bloody wind-turbine in my front garden that blocks peoples’ views and sunlight and slashes the resale price of their homes? After all it is a green technology.

  36. Ah, neighbors… well, if anyone asked me, I’d opine that if the worst things this guy has done were to put up an oversized wall, then replace it with overgrown trees, I’d welcome him into my own neighborhood.

    “Now the trees are an eyesore – they block out sunlight and make the street look bad.”

    Seriously, now… it ain’t the trees that make that street look bad. I see no graffiti, no Camaro up on cinderblocks in the front yard, no roosters, no sneakers hanging from the power lines, no faded and broken yard toys, no rusty chain link, no broken windows, no big-ass RV parked in the driveway. But I do see hideous late-20th-century stucco boxes parked too close together and painted in various shades of Bleah, separated by swaths of concrete and as grim as a Plymouth February.

    Guy planted trees. Let him be. Trim the bits that overhang your yard if you want, but really, if he’s the worst part of your neighborhood, you’re doing okay.

    But that’s why nobody asks me.

  37. As a former residential tree removal specialist, (AKA a treeguy) that tree should have been removed long ago. It’s a danger to his house, the neighbor’s house, those powerlines, and due to the density of the foliage there’s no accounting for possible rot based on that picture. Cut it down and plant something smaller. You could fit like three trees in that space.

    1. I agree, Anon #76: this tree is all wrong for that space: it appears to my eyes to be a fast-growing garbage “tree”, perhaps more a bush than a proper tree.

      I see that a poster above asks, “why are there no other trees in this ‘hood?”
      A good answer may be, that it is so, to preserve their subterranean water/sewer/septic systems: tree roots can and do cause expensive and disruptive repairs to have to be made, and not just to the tree-owner’s property, but perhaps also to the sewage/water systems belonging to the city or town, and perhaps shared or belonging to the neighbors. A tree’s roots spread as widely as its branches do – sometimes more .

      In general, only those people who properly care for their trees ought to keep such: this guy has these “trees” (or, rather, fast-growing shrubs, at least to my eyes) in too close a space.

      And – Trees grown within too close a space are like animals kept confined in too close a space.
      Not quite cruelty on the part of their grower, perhaps (cruelty to trees?): but treatment which is not good for the living things (which we remember that trees, in fact, are) he is keeping.

      Finally, I note that it is the neighbours, and not the owner, who need to rake up whatever detritus may drop, or which the wind may blow, from this growth onto their properties.
      That chore comes with the territory of tree-lined suburban living, and the fact can scarcely ground a legitimate complaint from the neighbours about the growth: but it will nevertheless lead the neighbours to feel some resentment. Particularly if they don’t have any trees of their own spreading any leaves around, at all.

      If it’s a nuisance or a danger to other’s property or persons, trim it or kill it. Fix it so it’s not a nuisance or threat.
      If the owner won’t or can’t, have the city do it and bill him for the work on his next tax invoice.
      That’s the way we do it, to people who don’t or won’t properly care for their trees in our cities.
      BUT: if it is not a nuisance or threat to others, then the man and his property ought to be left alone.

  38. So where is this man’s house? Is it the partly visible house to the left of the huge tree, or is it completely obscured by the foliage?

    If there was some way to confine it exclusively to his property, I’d suggest letting the trees grow until they eventually ripped apart his house. However, they are also probably working their way into the neighbors’ yards, septic systems, roofs and gutters.

  39. Had a meeting with my real estate broker today. He said prospective buyers would be put off by the house across the street. They have a half collapsed roof, broke-down cars on cinder blocks, essentially “the whole yard” of offenses of what my neighbors refer to as “white trash”.

    If not for that meeting, I would be inclined to feel differently about this tree. However poor the design aesthetic of the neighborhood, that tree is WAY OVER THE TOP!!!

    1. Thanks for the google map I like that tree even more now :)

      I think they just need to trim it up a bit to keep it off the neighbor’s driveway and off the sidewalk, but it’s far from an eyesore.

  40. I hate neighborhood standards and HOA’s almost more than anything (aka nosy neighbors). But after looking at the street view of that; those shrubs are a bit much. Haha. Maybe they should have let him keep his wall.

    At least it’s trimmed over the sidewalk and the neighbor’s driveway though.

  41. I would just make the tree my house and have the tree on some vacant lot. i mean i can understand wanting a tree but if your ass is old you can manage a fast growing tree like that.

    BTW where is is front door or is this even a fire hazard?

  42. seriously, get over it. You didn’t want him to have a privacy fence up so he took it down… you should have respected his privacy fence and not complained. so I think it is hilarious that you have to deal with this enormous tree. I hope he gets to keep it!!! Ha!

    1. A 12 foot concrete wall is not a privacy fence. It’s a death trap. Any masonry structure over six feet should be reinforced and signed off by an engineer, which I seriously doubt was part of this guy’s construction ethos. The tree would have grown and knocked over the concrete wall onto what- or whomever was next to it.

      1. The tree would have grown and knocked over the concrete wall onto what- or whomever was next to it.

        What amazing time traveling trees those must be to knock over a wall that was demolished before they were planted.

      2. A 12 foot concrete wall is not a privacy fence. It’s a death trap. Any masonry structure over six feet should be reinforced and signed off by an engineer, which I seriously doubt was part of this guy’s construction ethos. The tree would have grown and knocked over the concrete wall onto what- or whomever was next to it.

        Uh the article says the wall was around his backyard, the tree is in the front.

        Also it says the man is a civil engineer which is exactly the sort of person that can design such a wall safely.

        It does also say he didn’t get a permit, though, which is why they probably would have eventually ordered it down. He took it down without being ordered to after fighting it for 12 years.

  43. interesting thread

    – Hooray for eccentrics
    – It’s my land I can do what I like with it
    – Pathetic Brits driveby snipes
    – Call that a bad neighbour, let me tell you ….

    Given that this and the agave story are silly season specials, I’ll add some spice by chucking in the long running saga of the couple who were ASBOed for fucking loudly

    But more seriously this summer had the EDL

    You are watching the birth of the Brownshirts in 1930s Germany.

    1. Busybodies being backed up by the force of law and the armed Powers of the State, oh yes.

      But perhaps not so much like the Brownshirts of Nazi Germany, who IIRC went after political opponents (mostly), but more like the “Neighborhood Committees” of Mao’s China, who IIRC were much more likely to bully people about personal home-life habits, like too many dirty dishes, or putting out your garbage too early, or not early enough, etc., etc., etc.,….

      Also: there seems to be too much “ad-hocery” in the nature and types of actions which are being complained about and acted against, to allow that comparison of nosy and active British neighbours to goose-stepping Nazis to stand unchallenged: as the latter were much much more focused, much much more violent and completely driven by pre-set agendas from above – yet all of these ABSOs come from the complaints of people living near the “troublemakers”; they arise from problems which are not being fomented or actively used by the state to expand its powers still further; and violence itself is very far indeed from their mode of operation.

      These Brit ASBOs seem IMO to be a tightening and toughening of the laws of minor nuisance: and they take what would once have been minor civil disputes between neighbours, productive of endless and expensive litigation before the petty courts, and turn them instead into minor “quasi-criminal” matters, in the apparent hope that a quasi-criminal process will lead to speedier resolutions of the (rather broad) variety of social problems which the ASBOs aim at ameliorating.

      But their use does seem to bring a vagueness into the Law, a vagueness which IMHO can too easily become pernicious to liberty, by rendering the citizen uncertain as to what is and what is not allowed, or liable to punishment. It can lead to arbitrary punishment for behaviour deemed offensive, even – it would seem – for behaviour not publicized beforehand as being liable to punishment or correction.
      And if that comes to pass, what security can the citizen have, that new neighbours will not capriciously decide, unlike the old neighbours, that her long-standing habits are actually “offensive” and must be therefore “dealt with” by the authorities?

      Some of these neighbour-on-neighbour problems would quickly disappear if Britain were to go to a full-bore system of a professional class of examining/invetigating magistrates, with the power to take evidence, subpoena, and to make binding decisions: as in much of Europe, or even as in the settlement of specific disputes in certain areas of Anglo-British law, as in say fence disputes, or in mining claim boundaries, or even some situations arising in disputes in cases of family law: but such a wholesale change to the Brit system would bring problems of its own.

      Yet Britain is part of Europe: and as time goes on, I expect that her legal system will come to more and more resemble the systems found on the Continent: they are, after all, every one subject to EU law.
      And the Anglo-American legal system, with their paid champions, presenting each side’s case in front of a detached Judge, with such being incapable of calling witnesses herself, or even to ask questions of the witnesses, is an awfully expensive way to settle these essentially minor disputes, of purely local (and temporary – these problems pass away with the people involved) interest.
      It may be that these ASBOs are only a half-way house, between where Britain was, and where she will be, in the way her justice system deals with these neighbour-on-neighbour disputes.

      Speaking for myself, I enjoy a little conflict with the neighbours. It just doesn’t seem like “home” to me, unless there’s a little buckshot whizzing through the air.

  44. Have many of these commenters actually looked at the Google Maps street view of this neighborhood?

    For all of the people lamenting the dull, lifeless, dim, dreary neighborhood, the Street View shows a brightly lit street, with many houses with shrubs, bushes, trees, and even gardens in the yard. Not every house has a vibrant garden or tree out front, but it’s not like this grove of trees is the only plant life in the area.

    His trees are overgrowing the sidewalk. His trees are overgrowing the neighbor’s yard. The roots might be invading the sidewalk, road, power, water, or sewer lines.

    I’m certainly not saying that a tree can’t be allowed to overgrow into an adjacent public area, but those areas are shared in common. If most of your neighbors want a tree-shaded sidewalk, then great! If not, maybe you should have bought a larger lot to grow your grove of trees.

    Although this doesn’t appear to be the sort of massive-trunked tree that would cause havoc, I used to live next to a house which had a gigantic and slowly dying elm (probably 60+ feet tall) in the back yard. Sure, legally the owner would have been responsible if the tree fell on our house, but would that have been any comfort if it killed us?

    Being creative and different in your own yard doesn’t equal being able to do ANYTHING in your own yard so long as it vaguely fits into your yard.

  45. actually, my bad. the wall was in the back yard and the trees in the front, so I guess I should read the article instead of assuming that BB commentors had the timeline straight.

    Still, the trees would have to go through his house to knock over the wall.

  46. you can pretty plainly see on google streetview that the old man’s “doing what he wants on his own property” is preventing the guy next door from using his property how he’d like to.

  47. Hang about…
    I don’t think he grew a tree in spite.
    He had to take the wall down in 2003 and planted the trees in 1991. Unless he has a time machine I think the wall departure might have unleashed the tree to outgrow his yard.
    If he was allowed to keep the wall, the trees might not be a problem now.
    Ask him nicely trim it (maybe even help) but let him keep it. It’s his land, he should be able to do what he likes.
    Neighbors either be nice and assist or shut up and deal

  48. A serious problem with these sort of trees that soak up lots of water like these and willow is they take so much water out of the soil they lower the level of it screwing up foundations. If this dude wants privacy so much he should not have bought a house in the middle of an estate and defiantly not a semidetached.

    Oh and its not tree its trees twenty of the dam things apparently

  49. A clandestine visit to the tree trunk with a minute swath cut with a knife around its girth would change the outcome…..

  50. Judging by the comments on this, I really hope no Americans move in next door to me, as a large percentage of them seem to be rather selfish.

    The neighbours aren’t complaining for the sake of complaining, they are complaining because what he is doing affects them – by his choosing to have a giant hedge he is damaging the neighbours house, preventing them from having a garden, and forcing them to spend a chunk of cash every year to stop *his* hedge overlapping their property.

    As for blocking sunlight, note how far north the UK is – the sun doesn’t get as high in the sky, so tall hedges shade the neighbours gardens more.

    And complaining about the ugly little boxes of houses – it’s a crowded country – New Jersey is the only US state more crowded, and that’s hardly pretty.

    1. I agree. The neighbours who are complaining may live in a poky semi-detached 1950s surburban box but their wee bit of the property dream cost them at least £180k. Thats 228,536 give or take a few cents in US dollars. Even in a recession property prices are still through the roof in the UK and if I had to scrape together the mortgage payments each month I’d like to do it without having to put my lights on during the day to read a newspaper. Or worry about the mass of roots creeping slowly beneath my feet tearing up the foundations of my house.

  51. i too get why they could be angry about it but honestly cant they deal with one tree i mean we have already cut a massive swath of them down just to suit aesthetic and production needs. everyone needs a little extra O2 especially in the city

  52. TBH the British legal system is based on the idea of what you can’t do, we have no bill of rights. In other words we know what we aren’t allowed to do.

    ASBOs were initially thought up to deal with groups of youths allowing residents to make a punishable offence out of situations and behaviours that weren’t, at that time, described by law. To get an ASBO you simply need make an anonymous complaint to your local authority. Though breaking one will land you up to 5 years in prison. Their vague nature however means they’ve been used for things like getting neighbours to turn off their Xmas lights display at night.

    1. We English have no Bill of Rights? Tell that to William and Mary.

      Our constitution is often referred to as ‘unwritten’, but the truth is that it’s just mostly written down over centuries of Acts of Parliament. There’s a fairly big chunk of it in the Human Rights Act, though.

  53. I’ve got an overgrown leylandii hedge at the back of my house. I think it’s on my land, but I’ll have to check with the neighbours. I want to bring it down next year so I can plant something nice in it’s place.

    For all the UK weather jokes, we do get plenty of sun. But it’s rarely from overhead, so a tall hedge covers a huge amount of land in shade.

    The real problem though is the danger to the properties. The roots will be smashing the sewers for some seriously unsanitary drainage problems. Even worse is that these trees will be sucking up huge amounts of water, causing serious risks of subsidence. Leylandi are hardly environmentally friendly, since nothing eats them, lives on them (except some spiders) or derives any benefit from them. They are short-lived and when they die they rot and release all their CO2 back into the atmosphere.

    If I were his neighbour, I’d have salted the ground by now – although it’d probably take an IBC of glyphosate to kill those monstrosities.

    But hey, I forgot. All you hipsters love trees, that’s why you all live in designer apartment blocks with no gardens and feel smugly superior to those schmucks who have to work a non-media job for all their life just to afford some old run-down pebbledash terraced house.

    1. Haha my mum’s trying to salt the ones on the back of our land. Well she wants to, but we kinda want to grow stuff there eventually :c

  54. ASBO = “What you’re doing isn’t illegal but we don’t like it so you should stop.” They are almost completely undefined which leaves them far too interpretation and generally seem to be a way to placate the complainers and nitpickers in society at the cost of semi-criminalising any behaviour that isn’t 2.4 children run of the mill suburbia.

    That said, this is kind of an assholish thing to do. Middle England is completely obsessed with the price of their property (it is, after all, the one form of investment that is open to pretty much everyone and as such takes up an unhealthy amount of the public consciousness) and given the choice, most people would choose to move into a street that doesn’t have something like this in the middle of it so it’s pretty much guaranteed that everyone else in his street is direcly losing money on their property investment over this. Can’t help but think that the whole problem could have been avoided byjust letting him build the wall on his property in the first place though…

    1. Further to these ASBOs, I’ve come across another situation in Britain, where a person has done things on his own property for 17 years, with perfect legality, but may soon not only be forced to stop his activities, but may indeed face criminal charges,all because of some new neighbours soon to move in…and he’s not taking it quietly.
      He too complains about a loss of his privacy, and he is more sympathetic than this tree owner.
      But the solution appears to deny the neighbors the right to use their property , again in a perfectly legal matter.
      Take a peek:

      What was once legal could become illegal, once the neighbours move in. That’s the problem I see with these ASBOs – and it’s similar to what is happening in the linked story.

      When people have rights which conflict with equally the equally valid rights of others, finding solutions can be difficult.

  55. Listen, I think everyone kind of agrees that full bush is out these days. I think he needs to trim that wild thang down to a nice landing strip…

  56. absolutely they can cut it back if it overhangs their gardens and the council can cut it back if it overhangs the public road, but hey, otherwise it’s his land he can do what he likes.. Hideous street though!

  57. looked at streetview. The street looks fine – except for the tree. It does look bad. Trim at property lines and fume until the old guy moves out, unless of course the roots hurt the neighbours foundation. Then get the city to remove it.

  58. As many others have pointed out – the problem is not really aesthetic and actually I think it’s a strategic mistake for the neighbors to complain about aesthetic issues.

    There are real, practical problems with a tree that’s allowed to grow invasively this big and up to and over property lines, including:

    – Damage to underground and ground-level improvements from roots
    – Critters using the tree to access neighbor’s houses and roofs
    – Fire hazard
    – Blocking light
    – Tree litter
    – Cost of trimming
    – Subsidance caused by water absorption
    – Hazard caused by tree proximity to power line
    – And probably more

    It’s important to distinguish between aesthetic arguments and practical realities.

  59. i see nothing wrong with the guy having a tree there since he couldnt have the wall. so what he doesnt want the other ppl snooping in his house. they should just leave him alone.

  60. to add insult to injury he could trim the tree into the shape of someone having a shit , making sure the ass part is in the neighbours yard :)

  61. Drill a hole in the trunk (or one of them), pour some of Monanto’s Roundup(tm) herbicide in, and PRESTO!–dead tree, problem solved!

  62. Are you all so focused and conformed by the visual appearance of something that you find it right for a group mentality to take action against it. Whats next deformed people? Oh wait they already know what that tree feels like… You cut them down and trim them or feel the need to enhance them just the same. Let nature be nature you sick freaks. Nothing should be done, nothing need be done. Hell if anything were done this amazing photo wouldn’t be here. Put a banner on it that says it was on yahoo news and let it grow wild from then on. will it be ok then with that stamp of approval? Or maybe then you could charge money too… just to view it. Love the tree and love every force that allows it to be in existence. Change nothing enjoy its magnificence.

  63. I need to take a picture of our back garden. The neighbours(gardens back to back) have a row of the same type of tree, taller than our houses even. The entire bottom half of our lawn has shriveled away and died. The trees can cut out nearly all the light, unless it’s like midday or something, we can’t grow anything down there either, it’s just dirt. We’re also finding root systems that nearly reach the house too, and they’ve already cracked the patio they’ll be fucking up the foundations eventually. That’s why these trees suck.

    Mum’s trying to murder them :U

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