Most of us know that trees are an effective, environment-friendly way to shade your home and save on air conditioning costs in the summer months. But when do trees in your yard become an impediment to your neighbors?

London’s Guardian tackled that issue on Monday in this tale of dysfunctional suburbia across the pond. Plymouth resident David Alvand’s neighbors have launched a formal complaint against his 16 10-meter-tall leyland cyprus trees, whose branches overhang the street and the neighbors’ roofs, blocking out sunlight, and allegedly making the block look bad.

This is no isolated incident. The leyland cyprus trees, commonly known as leylandii, grow extremely quickly, causing countless suburban disputes across England and Wales as neighbors complain about these trees infringing on their territory. These conflicts even led to a “high hedges” section in the UK’s Anti-Social Behaviour Act of 2003, which allowed homeowners to take their neighbors to legal task because of unsightly hedges. Indeed, Alvand’s neighbors are using this clause to take him to court.

In’s article about this conflict, the blogger suggested that Alvand’s neighbors leave him alone and plant some trees of their own. A valid opinion, but I’m inclined to disagree. I have no problem with the trees if they stay in their owners’ yards, but once they start casting shadows on other peoples’ property, then it becomes a problem. They even impede neighbors from engaging in other eco-friendly activities: in this clash over the same issue in Norfolk in 2008, an affected woman said that she was overjoyed that the trees had been removed because it meant that she once again had access to enough sunlight to grow vegetables in her backyard.

Tell us what you think. Should the neighbors stop sticking their noses in Alvand’s business and think about the positive effects of the trees? Or do they have a legitimate complaint?

The Guardian