by Phoenix attorney Christopher A. Combs, partner with Combs Law Group, P.C.
Question: We share a common wall with our neighbor in a Prescott subdivision. Our neighbor has four large pine trees in his backyard. The branches of these trees have grown over the common wall into our backyard. These trees drop pine needles and seed pods into our backyard, especially on windy days. We have to continually sweep our backyard and skim our swimming pool, and last month we even had to replace our swimming pool motor. Our neighbor refuses to do anything. Can we require our neighbor to cut the branches of the trees back to the common wall? If our neighbor does cut back the branches of the trees to the common wall, but on windy days we still have a problem, is there anything that we can do?
Answer: If your neighbor will not voluntarily cut back the branches of the trees to the common wall, you can. You need to be careful, however, that by cutting the branches you do not destroy the trees. If there is any question you should contact an arborist for guidance. Unfortunately, unlike some states, in Arizona by court decision you are responsible for your expenses. If the trees are cut back, and you still have an unreasonable problem on windy days, your neighbor may be liable to you under the law of nuisance. You should contact an attorney as you may need to seek the assistance of a court.