California Tree Root Damage Law: What You Need to Know

California residents enjoy the beautiful trees in their neighborhood, but what happens when you experience problems with a neighbor’s tree? The state controls a lot of aspects regarding tree disputes between neighbors, with California tree root damage laws affecting how property owners deal with a nuisance tree’s roots in their yard. Learn how dealing with a neighbor’s trees the wrong way can negatively affect you with this information from the top tree removal company in Fresno, CA.

How Neighboring Tree Roots Can Negatively Affect Your Property

As a private property owner, neighbor’s trees encroaching on your land can cause problems ranging from bumps in your grass to lifting up concrete or asphalt surfaces. Other issues consist of the tree roots pushing their way through plumbing or gas lines or invading the root systems of your own trees. While you may believe you have the right to cut the roots back yourself, California laws regarding tree root control between neighbors have changed over the years.

Your Rights When a Neighbor’s Tree Roots Invade Your Yard

When it comes to dealing with an invasive tree, you have the common-law right to trim back both the roots and branches of a tree that encroaches on your property. However, that right only applies so long as you cut these parts back without causing injury to the tree. Today, even that right gets called into question since untrained homeowners often misunderstand the amount of cutting that can damage a tree.

So what happens if your tree trimming injures a neighbor’s tree? Some legal cases regarding California tree root damage law and other tree situations include:

Rony v. Costa, 2012: One neighbor owned a tree that was invading his neighbor’s property. The neighbor who felt that the tree encroached on their land hired a tree trimmer that cut the tree back substantially. When the tree owner sued the neighbor that cut the tree back, the court awarded him double the amount of actual damages in the amount of $45,060, with the neighbor who cut it down responsible.

Kallis v. Sones, 1984: A tree grew on the shared property line of neighbors Kallis and Sones, with the majority of the tree on Sones’s property. When Sones cut the tree down, Kallis sued Sones for removing it. Although Kallis only owned the lesser half of the tree, he sued and received the cost for replacing the entire tree as a reward, doubled in court to the total of $107,256.

How Should I Handle a Neighbor’s Tree Encroaching On My Property?

The first step to resolving potential legal issues regarding a tree consists of speaking with the tree’s actual owner. If you share ownership of a tree, you should also try to work out issues with your neighbor. Approach the issue respectfully and try to explain the issues that the tree causes on your property, such as the roots damaging your property.

If this doesn’t work, start taking photographs to back up your claims. Try sending your neighbor letters with the photographs in the envelope, and use certified mail to show that the letter actually got delivered. Keep those receipts and take photos continuously to show the development of the root damage.

If all else fails, you can attempt to sue your neighbor for a nuisance tree.

Contact Cut Rite Tree Service for Professional Tree Care Today

When it comes to California tree root damage laws, homeowners can lose tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars if they accidentally injure their neighbors tree. Whether you need tree experts to cut back a tree or have questions to ask a tree removal service, call Cut Rite Tree Service in Fresno, CA, at (559) 320-7723.


We are a locally owned company that prides ourselves in providing the best service possible for the residents of Fresno, Clovis, Madera, Sanger, Folwer, Reedley and the surrounding areas.

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Fresno, CA 93727


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