Your house, your garden its your life

The own garden is the most personal refuge of the house owner. Larger or smaller spaces of freedom are created there, which are often missing in everyday life. Nevertheless when planting, care should be taken to ensure Avoiding tax on death with a will and no excessive emissions occur on its neighbors. The following prescriptions and rights are valid.

While the owner of a dwelling is hardly subject to restrictions of neighborhood law for the interior of his house, the neighbors in the garden should be taken into account.

Distance guidelines for trees and bushes

This applies, for example, to the planting of the garden, where cantonal laws – very diverse – provide minimum distances for trees in relation to neighboring land; in addition, also maximum heights often apply for shrubs and hedges. The distances between the allowed limits and the maximum heights of the plants, as well as the right to sell or prune plants too close to the property line, are regulated in the cantonal law of introduction to the civil code.

For example, tall trees such as fir, linden or birch must be planted at least 5 m from the property line in the canton of Bern; in Zurich the distance is 8 m. In the case of fruit trees, a distance of three meters is prescribed in Bern and a distance of 4 meters is imposed on Zurich.

Only plants that are too close to the limit are affected by the maximum height in the canton of Bern; all other trees on a property can generally reach their natural height.

Limit distances for hedges

Exuberant growth is also not indicated for hedgerows. For example, a hedge in the canton of Zurich must be at least 60 cm away from the property line and cannot be more than 120 cm high. If it is higher, the distance to the limit must be at least half the height. In the canton of Bern, a distance of 50 cm to a height of 2 m applies for decorative shrubs. For green hedges, the 50 cm higher distances of fences over 120 cm apply.

Right to the fruits and right to unplug, for plants

In the case of plants, the right of neighborhood makes the distinction between material emissions, such as needles of conifers or dead leaves, and negative emissions such as loss of light. Roots and branches that encroach on the neighbor’s domain are considered direct emissions. If the neighbor or neighbor is prejudiced, for example due to strong shading, humidity, lack of clarity or the panorama, and if we cannot reach an agreement by talking with the owner, he or she has the right to ask for the size of the incriminated plants in most cantons.

In the event of conflict, the injured party should address a complaint to the neighbors in the form of a registered letter and give him a reasonable period of time for the removal of the branches or roots penetrating his land. The delay should take into account the growing season, as trees and shrubs can usually only be pruned from October to March. Only when the neighbor does not undertake anything can the wrongdoer make use of his right to unplug. He cannot, however, execute the size himself, but he must entrust this work to a specialist.


This also applies to fruit fallen in the neighbor’s garden. They belong to the neighbor. If he tolerates the branches advancing on his fund, he has the right, as compensation, to pick the fruits and thus to appropriate them (fruit right).

Warning: Fall leaf fall is considered normal. However, under special conditions (eg, when all dead leaves in a park regularly end up in a nearby small garden due to topographic location and wind), the “producer” of these leaves may be required. The dead ones take care of themselves to get rid of them.

The right to remove an annoying tree may be subject to prescription

In most cantons, the right to remove an annoying tree is subject to prescription. In the canton of Berne, this period is fixed at five years and in the canton of Solothurn at three years. Since it is sometimes difficult to prove how long a tree has been implanted, it is recommended, in case of major encroachments, not to wait too long. In the canton of Berne, the right to cut to the maximum height laid down by law for hedges, bushes and ornamental trees is however not prescriptible.