Must I remove ivy growing on my French second home?

Ivy can be attractive but can also be viewed as damaging

Ivy can provide homes with insulation, but at the same time is poisonous and a breeding ground for insects
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Reader Question: My neighbour is complaining about the ivy that grows on my second home, and says it looks ugly compared to others in the village. Because I am not always there, it grows rapidly, and he wants me to cut it all down. Do I have to do this?

Ivy is a complicated plant to have growing in your garden, as it provides both benefits and risks.

The plant is low-maintenance, provides insulation and can lower the risk of damp in your property. It is often used to mask unsightly spots on a building, as well as generally being seen as a pretty plant.

However, it can damage buildings, clog gutters, grow in all of a building’s nooks and is toxic. It is also extremely difficult to fully remove, and can be the home of a number of animals including spiders and even wasps.

Although often cited as an ‘invasive species’ due to these dangers, there is no legal classification that prevents you from growing ivy in your garden.

This means it is solely up to you whether you want to keep the plant growing in your garden/property or want to remove it.

Can my neighbour force me to take it down?

Your neighbour has no right to ask you to remove the ivy from your garden or property, provided it remains solely within your land.

This is also the case if the complaint is purely aesthetic.

Article 673 of the French Civil Code provides your neighbour with the right to cut down ivy that encroaches into his land, without asking you permission, up to the borderline of the two properties.

However, if the ivy is growing on a shared piece of property (mitoyen fence or wall), or is encroaching into his land from anywhere else in your garden, he has the right to ask you to prune the plant to prevent this happening.

Read more: Who must cut overhanging branches in French garden?

If you refuse, the neighbour can take you to court, but first must appeal to a conciliateur de justice.

Read more: How you must try to resolve neighbour disputes amicably in France

If ivy encroaches past the border onto your neighbour’s land they can ask the mairie to require you to attend to your garden. Failure to do so could see it classed as ‘abandoned’, especially if you are a second home owner who has let it get out of hand.

This is especially the case here as ivy can cause damage, which the mairie (and the courts) will take into consideration with their ruling.

More information about the decree can be found in Article L2213-25 of the Code général des collectivités publiques.

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