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Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:08 am
Location: Pittsburgh

Neighborly etiquette question for privacy hedges

Hello all,

I'm new to this forum and not sure if this topic has been broached here before. I have a yard with 4 foot high cyclone metal fence in my backyard and can see and hear my neighbors all the way down the street. I'd like to plant a row of Privet or Arborvitae hedges around the perimeter of the property line inside of my fence. I have several reasons for doing this: First and foremost I have a year old dog who likes to run outside and bark her head off. Second, I have a some trashy neighbors who smoke pot in their backyard 2 houses over and there is a lot of questionable foot traffic coming to and from their house. On the other side of me I have a neighbor who feels inclined to constantly make irritating remarks about my yard and what I need to do on my side of the fence, and a generally live in a pretty noisy neighborhood. All in all I think it will lend a lot more privacy and security to my yard and I think it will look nice.

2 questions on the issue.

1. What is the law in regards to growing hedges along the edge of the yard? My intention is to plant them a foot in from the fence and let them grow up and out from there. Once they hit 6 or 7 feet I will keep the top that level and keep them well manicured.

2. Has more to do with neighborly etiquette - should I ask my neighbors on both sides or should I forge ahead and plant them without asking since they are on my property? I believe that if I ask my nosey neighbor that he will ask me to not plant the shrubs along the side that I share with him. Since the shrubs will grow over the fence line they will create more work for him in his backyard. Am I obligated to offer to help him trim them? My only concern with that is that it begins a slippery slope where he may come knocking on my door once a week for a hedge trimming.

On my other side is an elderly woman who may not be able to trim them herself so I will probably offer to help her if they begin to grow out of control.

Any thoughts, suggestions or input on a happy compromise would be appreciated!


Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7500
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 7:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Re. the law on growing hedges on the side of the yard: This usually varies from county to county and even from city to city. Check to see whether the City of Pittsburgh's Municipal Ordinances are available online and then search to see what they say about plants on property lines.

Your second question will be answered by the same Municipal Ordinances, since it relates to the maintenance of plants on common property lines. Yes, it will be a nice neighborly practice to help out the elderly lady by maintaining the plants on both sides of the fence on her/your property line, but it may be wise to plant the actual roots a little ways back from the true property line in case a future resident on her side or the current resident on your other side decide they don't like the plants and want to whack down major branches or even :shock: administer toxics to the plants.

Know your rights and your responsibilities per Municipal Ordinances and maybe also County Statutes before any of the situations arise. Also find out (this is more of a "just in case" scenario) whether there are neighborhood mediation services available in your town for neighbor-type situations.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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