Good fences make good neighbours, Robert Frost famously wrote. And one Halifax woman has learned the hard way that a perfectly good hedge also does the trick.
In fact, Sarah Harris must give Tanya Isaacs, her next-door neighbour in a “leafy neighbourhood of West End Halifax,” $6,167.35 after she and her husband “took up a chainsaw and levelled about twenty five feet or more of the hedge” separating their backyards, Nova Scotia Small Claims Court adjudicator Eric Slone has ruled.
Isaacs “looked out her window on the morning after and saw for the first time the empty space where the hedge had always been. This came as a complete shock to her,” Slone wrote. “Clearly, the act of removing the hedge without so much as a ‘by your leave’ was not a neighbourly thing to do. The question for this Court is whether it was also unlawful.”
The two had been neighbours for about nine years, but the hedge — “barberry bushes as well as a scattering of small interspersed maple trees” — had been there at least 40 years until the first weekend of May, so no one knows who planted it or on exactly whose property.
Slone noted that a property line is, by definition, a line, while “of course, the hedge (as it existed) was a three-dimensional object occupying airspace and sending roots into the ground on both properties,” the judgment said.
Harris and Isaacs both hired surveyors, and the lines they produced were virtually identical, with the hedge jogging along the property line.
Slone summed it all up this way: “I acknowledge that many of the larger stumps sit on (Harris’s) side of the line, but the evidence suggests that these were mostly, if not all, maples which over the years had seeded and found their way into the barberry hedge as likely volunteers. The barberry bushes, as represented by the smaller stumps, are found on both sides of the boundary.
“In all cases, it is an irresistible inference that there were at least roots growing on both sides of the centre line of the hedge.”
Source:: Nationalpost – News