Swedish Aspen hedge

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Anna Kadlec, May 21, 2020.

  1. Anna Kadlec

    Anna Kadlec Active Member

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    Hello all,

    My neighbour (who's just a developer who's taking a really long time to build the house next door) took out some mature fir trees and all of the smaller trees along our shared property line almost 4 years ago. I complained and he told me to just deal with it (in less pleasant language). So I spent a small fortune on a few evergreen magnolias for the (now) sunny area along our shared fence-line. They have been growing nicely ever since. Now, he has decided to put in a long row of Swedish aspen along the same fence line which I know will grow extremely quickly and will be disastrous for my magnolias, as the aspen are planted on the west side of the property line (the fence runs north-south). Also, once mature, the aspen will completely shade my swimming pool in the afternoon hours (not to mention my herb garden, tomato garden, etc). This is completely unacceptable, as I invested my entire life-savings to have that pool built just 10 years ago. Do I have any ability to thwart a disaster for my property, or should I just put it up for sale now?
     
  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Esteemed Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Oof. Not pleasant.

    There doesn't seem to be much guidance in Surrey's bylaws with respect to planting trees, only removing them: Planting Trees

    However, there is an email address here for bylaws specifically to do with trees: https://www.surrey.ca/files/TreeReplacement.pdf

    I suppose that's where one would start--not much point in getting in an arborist if there is no mechanism for redress.
     
    Georgia Strait likes this.
  3. Anna Kadlec

    Anna Kadlec Active Member

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    Thanks Daniel. I have communicated with the Tree Bylaw people on many occasions with respect to my wonderful neighbour. In fact, they are the ones who suggested that I plant the magnolias in the first place when I was trying to get the wonderful man to stop needlessly killing mature trees along the property line. I will try contacting them again but I'm not really optimistic about the outcome. I have discovered that they have very little power when it comes to saving trees or property values.
     
  4. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Active Member

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    I don’t have any solution tho I can fully empathize with you - how frustrating.

    I suppose the one blessing is - yes, this tree grows fast - but like alder (native here) - it dies soon too. Well I realize likely beyond a retirement person lifetime ....

    Maybe one day this neighbor will sell and I realize unknown buyer could be worse - but it sounds like (from your description) it can’t get lower than now.

    QUESTIONS

    Are there any utilities installed along this property line ? (Overhead wires or underground pipes etc?) .... or septic system? That would be a key focus in my mind - you don’t want fast growing tree roots in your septic system or water / sewer lines.

    In your original post - you describe mature fir trees etc — and then these new Swedish aspens —- So thé part i am unclear about is - did the firs shade your garden / pool previously ?

    And how tall currently are these new Swedish Aspens?

    Maybe this neighbor will realize the trees are detracting fr their own property value (all those fallen leaves and the water meter bill and - it sounds like - morning shade?)

    Yes I absolutely agree with prev suggestion re checking out your local bylaws - and check in with them again because one never knows - some revisions might be in the works regarding trees and demising hedges / fences etc. Keep this type of issue in the city hall radar (both elected and staff) because likely you are not the first concerned citizen nor the last in the fast-changing suburbs surrounding Vanc

    I think neighbor (demising) hedges should be in the same bylaw chapter as fences and setbacks - tho clearly I don’t work at city hall.

    I can only wonder what the other neighbors of this individual have to put up with! Ouch.

    I realize I am not of much help however just some things to hopefully help you stay responsive (versus reactive) —
     
  5. Anna Kadlec

    Anna Kadlec Active Member

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    Thank you for your reply.

    To answer your questions:

    The only utilities installed along that property line are for that neighbours property. Primarily the underground connections to the City sanitary lines and water lines. If the tree roots become a problem for those, it doesn't really concern me (though it should concern the neighbour).

    The mature firs were further north along the property line and they did provide shade for my shade garden (west side) and for the swimming pool at the very end of the afternoon (5 - 6 in the summertime). There were several smaller trees (@20') that he had removed further south along the property line. They provided afternoon shade to the west garden in my yard, but the shade never reached the swimming pool. I complained about the removal of all of these trees because I liked the privacy they provided as well as the shade and the view. I liked the way they looked. I liked watching the birds in them. I had a well established (50+ years) shade garden on that side of my property, as I (and the owners before me) had planted lots of trees, shrubs, perennials that were suitable for the level of shade. The sudden removal of all of the shade along that line was not good for my garden. I explained the situation to the developer as well as to the City of Surrey. I was simply told to plant my own trees for shade and / or to move the ones that couldn't tolerate the sun. I did exactly that. I moved several large rhododendrons (12' - 15') and a lot of shade perennials over to the east side of my yard and I spent a lot of money I didn't have on decent sized evergreen magnolias and planted them on my side of the fence. They have been thriving for a few years now, as the construction next door dragged on for an excessive amount of time. It's still not done.

    I should add that our properties are in a special zoning area of Surrey, where our minimum lot size is 0.5 acres. We petitioned very hard for many years and we were eventually granted our special zoning status several (10+) years ago. The entire point of the special zoning was to stop the ridiculous subdividing so that we could maintain the trees in the area, as our neighbourhood provided one of the very few tree corridors from the ocean - inland remaining for the birds. We were successful, or so we thought. The developers are still buying the properties and removing the trees. They just can't subdivide them. As I said, I was very surprised that the City allowed the removal of so many trees. The other neighbours don't appear to be dealing with too many problems with respect to this particular developer, as he has chosen to build the home and 3-car garage and pool cabana on the side of the property closest to mine. The back of his pool cabana is just 4' from the property line and is in the view from all of the windows on the back of my house. The back of the garage is my view from all of the windows on the front of my house. I won't get into the grading issues, as he has made the property flat when in reality, the street slopes downhill (from east to west). I have yet to see if he builds a retaining wall to keep my garden from falling into his yard. None of the other neighbours are dealing with these problems because they don't have them.

    Currently, the aspens are about 12' tall but that's very temporary. He's installed a sprinkler system for them already : (
     

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