Can My Neighbor Take Fruit From My Trees?
June 27, 2018
It’s fruiting season for many of the fruit trees we grow here in North Texas. With that comes the temptation for passersby and neighbors to swipe the fruit right from your tree, causing some understandable frustration for you as the owner. But, what really does the law say about this?
The first step on deciding who can pick and eat fruit is to decide the rightful owner of the tree. In all cases, the ownership of the tree falls to the homeowner with the main trunk on their property. Therefore, even if fruiting branches hang over your neighbor’s property—the fruit is not theirs for the taking. If fruit falls from the branches onto your property, in some cases, you may be able to eat it. But, checking with local laws first is always your best bet (or just get friendly with your neighbor and see what they think).
That means no one, be it your neighbors, people driving through your neighborhood, utility workers, landscape crews, and the like, are allowed to take any fruit they find on your tree, or falling from your tree - they must ask your permission.
Trees On Property Lines
If you have a fruit tree that straddles the property line, you and your neighbor are both entitled to the fruit—but are also both responsible for any maintenance and pruning the tree requires.
While is it difficult to guard your tree from fruit thieves all the time, proper placement in your yard can deter many people. Since trespassing is always illegal, situating your fruit trees away from fences and sidewalks is ideal. But of course, fruit trees need a full sun location, so you’ll have to grow where the sun goes.
Public Fruit Trees
Many times fruit trees are found growing in parks or public land. In this situation, picking fruit is usually permitted. And, a couple of folks even created a great interactive map that pinpoints locations all over the world in which to forage for open source fruit. http://fallingfruit.org/
Fruit trees are some of the best and more exciting additions to make your home landscape complete. They not only feed you, but also support wildlife. If you need advice on picking the right fruit trees, planting your tree in the right place, or help when a legal matter arises, contact us and we’d be happy to help.