06:27AM | 05/02/01
Member Since: 01/16/01
71 lifetime posts
I am planning to plant a row of Emerald Green Arborvitae as a screen from my neighbor's backyard but have heard horror stories about trespassing lawsuits when a fence or planting is done at property lines.

How does one get the legal boundries of one's property? Does it cost a lot to get one done? Can I work from the rough survey I received when I closed on the house?

Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

Jay J

05:46PM | 05/02/01
Member Since: 10/26/00
782 lifetime posts
Hi Wally,

Look in the YELLOW PAGES under SURVEYORS - LAND for 'leads'. It's not that expensive, depending on where you live. I live in the Suburbs of Philly, PA and to survey a 1/3 acre lot was about $350.00, markers and all! Personally, I wouldn't try to make any sense of any Legal Documents you might have, or what neighbors say.

As an aside, realize this - Whatever grows OVER the Property Line can be 'pruned' by the Owner on the other side of that Line. Soooo, be SURE to calculate the FULL size of the vegetation that you want to 'grow', and adjust your plant-site according. IN other words, if you were growing Blue Spruce, it could grow to about 30+ feet, and have a 30' diameter base. THis means you want to plant your tree 15' from the line. That way, when the tree is 'full grown' (or if it grows to YOUR planned diameter), your neighbor can't 'touch' it. See what I mean?

My best to ya and hope this helps.

Jay J -Moderator

PS: Trees that are planted ON Property Lines can be, technically, cut in half (assuming half is on each side of the line.) This will kill the tree. Doing less can CERTAINLY kill a tree (like pruning branches off of 1/2 of the tree on your neighbors side of the line!)

Peter Lothian

03:34PM | 06/09/01
Member Since: 04/14/01
8 lifetime posts
Jay, thank's for advising Wally to avoid doing his own survey. The work involved in surveying a parcel goes way beyond the crew that you see measuring on the ground. Usually a surveyor will research the deed history of a parcel to look for grants of land or easements into or out of the parcel which may not be listed on the current deed. Measurements on the ground are then compared to what is described in the written record. Vague wording, conflicting calls in the deeds, an absence of monumentation on the ground, and other issues have to be evaluated in order to determine where the lines described in the deed exist on the ground. Sometimes, it can be straightforward. Oftentimes it is not. Land in a recent subdivision will usually cost less to survey than land in older subdivisions.

If you do decide to plant your trees inside your boundary as Jay suggested, you should be sure to have the actual boundary line monumented clearly. People have a tendency over time to assume that large physical objects represent the boundary line, and start to use the land that runs up to them. This forms the basis for many boundary disputes. An old New England saying, "Good fences make good neighbors." Have iron rods set at the corners, and every 200-300 feet along a long line. Stone or concrete bounds cost more than iron rods, but they last longer and are more difficult for children or fractious abutters to remove. You might even consider putting a small fence down the line. As long as the fence is on the line, and not over it, it should not be a problem.

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