Verdict in Koblenz: Tree growing next door must be cut back gently

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Emma Teitel
Emma Teitel
Emma Teitel is an award-winning national affairs columnist with the Toronto Star who writes about anything and everything. She got her start at Maclean's Magazine where she wrote frequently about women's issues, LGBT rights, and popular culture.

A walnut tree growing on the neighboring plot does not need to be cut back immediately if it dies as a result. The district court in the Rhineland-Palatinate Koblenz decided in a dispute between two neighbors, as the court announced on Thursday.

Accordingly, it is enough to gradually cut back the branches hanging over the boundary of the plot over several years – and thus reduce the tree to the agreed height.

According to the court, the two neighbors had actually already agreed in 2015 that the tree owner would shorten the overhanging branches. However, he did not comply with this agreement, which is why his neighbor took legal action against him in 2018. On the one hand, the fruits and leaves falling from the tree disturbed him. On the other hand, the walnut tree cast shadows on its pool.

During the litigation, the defendant removed part of the overgrowth and cut back the tree. However, this was not enough for his neighbor. The tree owner objected that the tree had already suffered from the last pruning and would die with another cut.

The court instructed the tree owner to “unconditionally” eliminate the overgrowth on the neighboring plot. The pollution of the pool by walnuts and foliage, as well as the thrown shade, represented a not inconsiderable impairment.

However, contrary to the agreement between the two neighbors, the court found that the tree did not need to be cut back immediately, otherwise it would die. In fact, this would be tantamount to the removal of the tree, to which the complaining neighbor had no claim. In addition, the tree enjoys conservation due to its age.

The judgment is final.

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