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The rules of planting trees in your French garden

Rules for tree planting in France date back to 1804 and can be found in the Civil Code

18 January 2021
By Connexion journalist

It may not feel like it right now, but the days are getting longer again and spring is on its way.

Gardeners’ thoughts may well be turning to planning a spot of tree planting – but there is more than just sudden frost to worry about.

There are numerous rules surrounding tree planting and maintenance in France, notably focusing on where planting is permitted and who is responsible for care and maintenance.

Rules for tree planting in France date back to 1804 and can be found in the Civil Code.

They may be superseded by local regulations so it is always advisable to check with the local mairie.

If a tree or shrub is planted that can grow higher than two metres, it must be planted at least two metres from neighbouring property.

If it is intended to be kept below two metres high, the minimum distance is 50cm from the boundary. Where a property borders a public highway, the minimum distance is two metres, but this may be less depending on local regulations and traffic circumstances.

The principle is simple for maintenance: the cutting of branches of trees and plants is the responsibility of their owner.

It is legally possible to require that a neighbour cuts the branches of a tree that encroaches on your land.

In the event of a dispute, the advice is not to cut overhanging branches yourself.

In the first instance, you should formally ask them to cut them, citing article 673 of the Code Civil, by recorded delivery letter. If that is ignored, it is possible to apply to a local court for an order.

If the roots of a tree or shrub impede on a neighbouring property, the occupier of that property has the right to prune them to the limit of their boundary without obtaining the consent of their neighbour.

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