Trees on neighbors side of fence stealing nutrients

When I moved into my current location, it was pure dense clay soil. After 3 or 4 years, I can finally say we have amended it to where it’s hospital for vegetables. We chose to amend along the fence to keep the center clear.

Unfortunately, my neighbor has been rolling out a new tree on his side of the fence every year. It’s frustrating me because every year when I till along the fence I run into giant roots coming from his side. I will no longer be tilling, because it’s no longer necessary. But this guy just keeps adding trees for the heck of it. He’s cramming crepe myrtles within 2 feet of each other.

The issue is that I feel like I’m feeding his trees more than my vegetables, as his trees steal all nutrients and compost.

What would you guys do?

Move to the country on at least a couple of acres. :slight_smile:


Yea this is why I hate having neighbors. I want to move somewhere with plenty of space. I wish. It’s a future goal.


Try and have a rational conversation with him. Next step, move your garden area. Third step, move.

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I guess I do need to talk with him. He is a great guy otherwise. You don’t hear them. You don’t see them. Last time I briefly pointed out that 75% of his maple tree is hovering over our yard, and he didn’t seem interested. So I cut off a low hanging limb myself. I’m pretty sure if I talk with him he’s going to think “what the hell, it’s my yard, you can’t tell me what not to plant in it”.

It’s weird because they get more encouraged to grow trees, the more they see us gardening. I guess I’ll have to come out to the garden in secret and avoid detection, pretend like I don’t garden or have any interest in it.

The town near me offers garden plots for a small fee. I think they also do spring and fall tilling

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I think your assessment that his trees are stealing nutrients from your garden is highly unlikely.
In fact, his trees are likely acting as dynamic accumulators.


This is one of those things where if we want to have the autonomy to plant our trees and gardens we need to let them also have the autonomy to have a green wall barrier between the two. The sunshading does suck and you can always try to offer him vegetables or fruit samples to keep the trees low near your garden and orchard?

Im also with ribs on almost every tree being a net positive


I had similar problems. I did 2 things -

(1) installed root barriers along the fence line. Cost me a few 1000 dollars but worth it!

(2) I spoke to the friendly neighbours - one cut down a tree at his expense. Another said I can cut it down as long as he doesn’t have to pay for it.


Hmm I may find some scrap metal sheets and use it as a root barrier. I need to keep an eye out on facebook marketplace for that.

You could try a no dig method like charles dowding. Super easy and no tilling required.


We’re past that point. The issue is that once we stop tilling, we can’t dig up these roots coming from the other side.They’ll grow and grow and take over the underground of our space for annuals.

I want to stop tilling like you said.

Those tree roots will not have any negative effect on your garden.

What do you mean? Those trees are competing with my annuals for nutrients. Like parasites.

That’s unlikely. Most trees are dynamic accumulators.

Sorry I have no idea what that means. I read a little bit about it, but couldn’t really understand. Something about the roots taking up nutrients from down below, storing it in their leaves, then when leaves drop they give it back to the soil. Most of his leaves fall on his side of the yard. So the nutrients are ending up on his side, regardless.

The root barrier material is quite cheap, it was the labor to dig that cost the most…
This is what I used - Unbranded Century Products 2 ft. x 2 ft. Polyethelene Root Barrier Panels-CP24-2 - The Home Depot

The other advantage is neighbors water and high nitrogen lawn fertilizers wont come over to the organic fruit trees on my side!

$72 dollars per 2 feet is cheap?

Many permaculturists including James Prigioni, Myself, Paul Gautschi and many others, including many users on this board intentionally plant gardens in what we call guilds. These guilds usually are centered around fruit, or other trees.
Unless his trees are directly south of, and shading your garden, there will be absolutely no negative effect. There is a good possibility that his trees will have a positive effect on your garden through many mechanisms including dynamic accumulating and the possibility that some of his trees may be nitrogen fixing.

OMG! No! There are 10 panels/20 linear feet per unit.