Six ways to break the law in your garden, from planting trees to land disputes

Summer nights allow us to spend more time in our gardens, but there are things we could do from the comfort of our lawns that could actually break the law.

Legal experts at BPP University School of Law have revealed six ways you can unknowingly break the law from the comfort of your own backyard.

If you plan to spend as much time in the sun as possible (while it lasts), keep reading so you don’t get caught later.

Here are six ways you could be breaking the law from your own backyard and how you can avoid it.

Watering can sitting on the grass. Credit: PA

How you could be breaking the law from your own backyard

1. Fruit theft

If you come across fruit that has fallen from your neighbor’s tree, your neighbor has the legal right to claim it.

On top of that, if you removed the fruit, it would actually count as stealing.

According to BPP University Law School, the easiest way to avoid it is to return the fruit as soon as you find it.

However, don’t just dump them in their garden, as this could be interpreted as litter or fly dumping.

Impartial journalist: apples on a tree.  Credit;  ClothApples on a tree. Credit; Cloth

2. Prune the branches

Branches hanging over the fence blocking your view or access to the sun can be an eyesore and a bit of a pain.

However, you must resist hacking the tree branch if it is not yours to avoid breaking the law.

That being said, you can cut branches right up to your property line, which is the point where your garden ends and your neighbor’s land begins.

Either way, it’s always best to ask them first to avoid any conflicts.

3. Plant trees
If you spend more time in your garden, you may want to make some changes to it, possibly by planting trees.

But you should be aware of the right to light law beforehand and it might even make you think twice.

The law states that if your neighbor has had access to natural light through a window for 20 years or more, you are not allowed to block it.

You should try to plant trees and shrubs away from windows that don’t belong to you, just to avoid confusion.

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4. Ask your neighbors to clean their sheets

Cleaning up your garden in the spring and summer can be a relaxing and somewhat challenging job at the same time.

It can be a thankless task, especially when you have to clean up fallen leaves from your neighbor’s trees in your garden.

You might be tempted to ask your neighbor to help out, but they actually have no legal obligation to do the cleaning.

Impartial Reporter: Colorful Flowers in a Garden.  1 creditColorful flowers in a garden. 1 credit
5. Take flowers from your neighbors

If you and your green fingers get their color by envying your neighbor’s flowers and not by spending time in your garden, listen up.

Just like taking fruit from your neighbor’s fallen trees, even if the flowers have fallen, your neighbor still has the right to claim them.

It’s best to avoid taking flowers unless you’ve asked for them, paid for them, or planted and grown them yourself!
6. Dealing with land disputes

Do not take any land dispute between you and a neighbor into your own hands.

While you’re sitting in the garden this summer, it’s natural for your mind to wander and even ask questions like, “should my neighbor’s fence be this close to my house?” Is this really where the boundaries between our houses are?

If this is the case, BPP University Law School recommends that you clear up any confusion by contacting the HM Land Registry, as boundaries may in fact shift over the years.