My 54 yr old Pine tree

Asked December 31, 2019, 11:49 AM EST

My next door neighbor wants me to cut this tree down. The roots from the tree extend on to his lot in an area where he now wants to build a garage. The tree is at least 60 to 70 feet tall, has lots of "green" at the top but most of the lower limbs have died due to lack of sunlight. It is a beautiful living tree and I don't want it hurt. Recently he told me that he is going to cut all the roots that extend onto his property. I want advice of how to prepare myself in the event that he does cut the roots and hurts or kills the tree. Do I have any options or do I just wait until he cuts the roots? How best do I document that right now the tree is healthy? Any help would be most appreciated.

Oakland County Michigan

1 Response


To determine the health of the tree, and options for the roots on the neighbor’s side, hire a certified arborist. The health assessment isn’t terribly expensive- call 2 or 3 arborists for estimates. You can find them by zip code here-

( Don’t just call a tree service- you want an arborist who has received training and passed certification)

Contact your local city government about ordinances on trees that span property lines- there may be some ordinance that protects the tree. Each city has different ordinances.

Cutting major roots will be detrimental to the tree’s health. It can also increase the risk of the tree falling. Compaction of the soil over the roots is also harmful to trees. When this can’t be avoided, removal may be necessary.

We recommend that you first try to work with your neighbor and come to an agreement. Check with the builder to see how many roots are in the way. Large roots can sometimes be preserved by moving them or building over or around them. Your arborist can advise the builder how to do this, where possible.

I am including references for you. I hope this is helpful.