Help me be Christian in my neighbor dispute!


So I have a 100ft pine tree that overhangs my house and my neighbors house. Its my tree, and its healthy. It doesn’t pose a risk to him at all. But he keeps harrasing me about taking the tree down because he’s “sick of picking up pine cones and needles off of his corvette”. He has a two car garage but refuses to park his car in it.

He offered to split the cost, so we’re looking at about $450 a piece which is pretty expensive. We are selling the house (hopefully) and moving in a couple of months so we don’t really care about the tree.

I am probably going to do it just to have him leave me alone, he’s even gone as far as threatening to sue me to get it taken down. I don’t appreciate threats, and I think he is acting like a child.

But how do I treat him as a Christian! I keep asking myself what should I do. What I want to do is fight him legally, but what I think is the Christian thing to do is treat him with respect and comprimise. Its just that his reason is so dumb in my opinion and his way of handling this has been less than ideal.

How come every time I act like I should “as a Christian” I feel weak, like I’m “giving in”. By comprimising and taking this tree down is just reinforcing his idea that his car is more important than anything else, and that by acting like a bully he can get what he wants. Where’s the justice in that?


I had a similar dispute with a neighbor, with some important differences. Their tree was doing actual damage to my driveway. It had, in fact, destroyed it.

Worse, I could not get new concrete poured as long as the roots were under it. Yet, because the tree and my driveway were both right on the property line, cutting the roots might cause the tree to fall.

After years of wrangling, we had to sue them. As we had actual damage, we had a real legal case. That is because there was absolutely nothing we could do to avoid the damage. We cannot park the driveway somewhere else. We cannot move the foundation of my house. (We won, by the way.)

Now whether he has a case or not, I do not know. It would seem that he can do things to avoid the undesirable yet utterly predictable consequences of parking a car under a tree. A car can be parked in many different places. Additionally, you are not denying him use of his property in any substantive way.

This in no way should be considered legal advice. If you want a real opinion, contact an attorney.

Personally, I do not think you are obliged, legally or morally, to do anything. For example, you can respectfully say “No, I like the tree. If you want your car protected from the elements, consider parking it in your garage.”

Being Christian and treating people respectfully does not mean giving in to every silly demand or letting people walk all over you.


We have a challenging neighbor as well… so I sympathize.

But most of our landscape issues have been easy to deal with… ~Dying trees that could come down in a hurricane that sit on the property line… easy decision to split the bill there!
~Tree on one property that had roots that were growing into the other property’s foundation…

But your issue seems more artificial… no “real” reason to cut down the tree except for the pine cones on his 'vette?..
Wow… yeah, that’s a challenge.

First off… if that’s the entire issue, then he has NO grounds on which to sue you… right?

I’d be honest and kind with him…
Look, I know you don’t like our tree, but there are no serious reasons to take it down.
I’m moving in a few months and this tree really doesn’t mean anything to me. I can’t afford $450… (maybe offer a lower amount $100-$200???), but I do give you permission to have it cut down at your expense.

Like I said… if there are really no other reasons for having it taken down, then he can take the financial burden.
But, if he’s really serious about suing… then I’d have an arborist come out and give you a written statement on the health of the tree. It’s good to have your bases covered.

Good luck!


I don’t like pine trees so I’m probably not the best person to comment here. (Actually I love pine trees; but I think they are lousy yard trees unless you live in a forest.) I don’t like them for many of the same reasons your neighbor gives. They cause damage to cars are roofs and are not lawn friendly. But then I’m allergic to most pine trees so that could be my problem.

Since you are moving, it seems to me that there are a couple of things to think about. You don’t care about the tree so it could go without causing any grief to you other than to your pocket book. I don’t know if you already have buyer for your house but if the tree is going to go, you need to make that known to the buyers/potential buyers. If the tree stays then the buyers will have to deal with the neighbor. I don’t know if the neighbor constitutes a “known pre-existing condition” but it might.

If it was me I’d just bite the bullet and take the tree out. But again, I’m kind of biased.


He can pay to trim the tree so that the branches that hang over his side of the property line are cut back to the property line.


We had a similar problem. Although, the tree was in our yard, I hated it and my DH loved it. It wasn’t doing any harm to anyone else.
Couple things. Don’t let him trim his half as a previous poster stated. It makes pine trees look horrible and you will never sell your home with it looking that way. Talk to your realtor. Is the tree going to help or harm selling your home? Many times it actually helps to cut a huge tree like that down. It opens up the view of your home and many people look at a tree like that and think of the expense it will cost them to chop it down!!
I agree with the previous poster that said that pine trees do more damage than good. Ours was harming our sidewalk, roof, yard, and was clogging up the city drainage in front of our house. After we chopped it down the city came to clean out that drain because the drain would not drain properly, thus causing that corner to flood. I can’t even imagine how many cones and needles they ended up sucking out of that drain.
After I did convince my DH to have the tree removed, he even agreed that our home looked so much better and he was happy not to have to deal with the mess the tree caused.

To the poster that said that pine trees are not meant to be yard trees unless you live in a forest :rotfl: :rotfl: I agree :thumbsup:


Yes, this. He could also invest in a cover for his 'vette. I agree he is behaving in a silly way, and I don’t think you owe him anything.


Thanks for all the replies. I am still really torn on what to do. Part of me just hates to give in to someone who is acting foolish. But the other half of me knows HE could make it worse.

I’ve already had the tree inspected and its in good health. Sure in a hurricane a limb could fall. But hail could also fall and break his windshield. Those are acts of God I am not responsible for.

Its not about the tree anymore, its about my conflict with how to deal with crazy neighbors. Should I just give in and realize that me fighting him isn’t going to teach him a lesson? I mean by 55 if you haven’t learned how to treat situations/people with respect than I guess you’ll never learn?


You’re allowed to be stubborn, too. :wink:

The older I get, the more I realize that you can’t ask permission to get your own way. You just have to go ahead and do what you want to do, without worrying about other people’s opinions.

I say, if you like your tree, and it’s not actually harming anyone, then you should get to keep it, and you don’t need your neighbor’s permission for that.


It seems the question is not so much about the tree, as about the Christian thing to do. If the tree is causing him no harm, you are NOT under a Christian obligation to have it removed. Whether you do or not is your own decision, separate from your obligations as a Christian, as long as you carry out your dealings with respect (aka, no name calling :stuck_out_tongue: ). Jesus told us to love to our neighbors, but He also said to be ‘as shrewd as snakes’. We DO NOT EVER have to let someone else walk all over us. If you would like him to stop bugging you, and you don’t care about the tree, let him remove it. If you want to keep tree, go ahead and keep it there. It’s his fault if he doesn’t want to protect his car. :shrug:


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit