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Homeowner at their wit's end with neighbor's invasive problem: 'Only things I can think of are probably not legal'

The plants just came back with a vengeance.

The plants just came back with a vengeance.

Photo Credit: iStock

A Massachusetts homeowner has reached out to Reddit to seek advice about how to make their neighbor deal with an invasive plant.

While they might sound lovely, the deciduous plant known as "tree of heaven" is a fast-spreading problem that can ravage a garden if not treated appropriately.

The neighbor had essentially told the original poster they had given up on the back end of their yard because it was difficult to maintain, and with that, the trees of heaven began to grow out of control. 

An image uploaded alongside the cry for help shows how the plants are starting to encroach over the fence, which suggests they could soon begin sprouting on the OP's side of the yard. 

"Looking for advice on what I can do to not let Ron's heavenly yard ruin mine," they said. "Only things I can think of are probably not legal. And I'm not really looking to go to small claims court with Ron over it either."

The plants just came back with a vengeance.
Photo Credit: Reddit

The comments section was quickly populated with gardeners posting their own horror stories of dealing with the invasive species, making it clear that the OP needed to do something quickly or else be overrun.

Trees of heaven are native to China, but they have now become a common sight in the United States. According to The Nature Conservancy, they are also known as stinking sumac or stink trees because of the strong smell they release from their flowers. They can grow in a variety of soil types, which has helped the population spread.

While the unpleasant aroma is one problem, another is that trees of heaven can crowd out native plants and secrete a toxin into the soil that can harm plants in the vicinity. An absence of native plants would harm the local ecosystem and can be detrimental to biodiversity. The Nature Conservancy warns that this could lead to the extinction of native plant species and animals. 

"Realistically probably very little unless you're in some region that bans or requires their removal," one commenter said about what the OP can do. "In parts (all?) of the US you can trim the limbs from a neighbor's tree that crosses the property line."

But trimming was already a path crossed by the OP, who said that the plants just came back with a vengeance.

Removing seedlings from the ground manually is recommended, although it's important to make sure the roots are removed. 

"Tree of heaven is on the MA prohibited plant list...so maybe that will help you," another user said, giving the OP a solid case to raise with their neighbor. 

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