How to Trim Trees on Boundary Lines

Updated November 21, 2016

Boundary trees line the boundaries between two properties. While the laws concerning these trees vary slightly from state to state, in most cases, a person is responsible for a tree if the majority of that tree's trunk sits on their property. If trees truly line the border, they are most often considered to be the joint property of both homeowners, according to the University of Tennessee. Before beginning a trimming process on border trees, talk with the neighbour to come to a consensus about how the trees should be trimmed. Having an open and honest conversation about trees on the property line is the best way to keep all parties informed and happy.

Walk along the tree line, observing the trees and its branches. Branches that appear dead or diseased should be removed. Also prune any branches that overhang power lines or buildings. Branches that would damage property should be removed, according to the USDA Forest Service website. Use spray paint to mark the branches that need to be removed.

Make a sample cut with a pruning saw on the lowest branch needing pruning. The saw should cut smoothly through the wood without tearing the wood. If the saw is too dull, use a saw sharpener to sharpen the blades.

Locate the joint were the branches join to the trunk, or to a larger branch. Use your fingers and measure about 2 finger widths away from this joint. Cut cleanly through the wood.

Ask an assistant for a hand lowering large branches. Lower them slowly into a wheelbarrow to prevent cut branches from crashing to the ground.

Continue to cut branches until all necessary branches are pruned.

Feed cut branches into a shredder or chipper machine to make wood chips to use in compost or mulch. Another option is to recycle branches into a brush pile to create a natural roosting place for birds. Lay branches from largest to smallest in a large pile. Add grass clippings, pulled weeds and other organic materials to the pile.


Choose a ladder that allows the pruner to safely reach the tree branches without the risk of falling or overextending yourself. If the branches are not easily reachable, consult a professional tree trimmer. Never cut branches near power lines. Always contact the power company before attempting to trim these branches.

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Spray paint
  • Pruning saw
  • Saw sharpener
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Chipper (optional)
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