Try gentle approach to end tree dilemma

My neighbor's tree hangs over our fence into my yard and drops a lot of fruit, leaves and branches. My neighbor refuses to do anything about the mess or to trim his tree. I'm going nuts over his mess and am tired of cleaning it up. I have phoned Medford to get guidance but haven't received any help. Is it OK for me to cut the overhanging branches at the fence line?

— Joan, Medford

Joan, we're sorry to say, you're on your own in this.

Your neighbor isn't committing a crime by not pruning his trees, and there isn't a city code that addresses your particularly messy situation.

"The entire thing is a civil matter," said Medford police Sgt. Derek Parks.

The Medford Police Department can only advise that you talk to your neighbor again and ask that he trim his trees or allow you to trim them to your property line. (Remember, a compliment and a plate of cookies can go a long way, at least they do in the SYA office.)

If your neighbor doesn't consent, your next option would be to take the issue to civil court, but that could be just as messy and expensive.

If you go ahead and cut the offending branches without permission, there could be civil ramifications if you damaged or killed the tree, Parks said.

And it's too late — or too early — in the season to count on webworms for help.

Send questions by fax to 541-776-4376 or by email to

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