Good trees make good neighbors, sometimes

I live next door to a vacant lot that has humongous trees that drop leaves in my yard.

I have no big trees, and because all the leaves come from the trees next door, I just rake them up and dump them over the fence.

I've seen others do the same. Is this legal?

— Tom C., via email

Well, Tom, it appears there's nothing legally wrong with dumping your neighbor's leaves — just the leaves, not your pet's poo, yard debris or trash bags — back onto his/her property.

However, for conscience' sake and the betterment of your neighborhood, you might consider playing the do-good neighbor and dispose of them as you would your own yard clippings.

"It's kind of a gray area," said Medford police Sgt. Ben Lytle. "If the house is vacant and you're just dumping it back over, stuff's just going to accumulate ... "

Dialogue with the property owner is usually the best solution for these civil issues, Lytle said.

If you're not sure who the neighbors are, there are ways to find out. For example, try using Jackson County's Property Data Online application, formerly known as Front Counter.

Let the absentee owners know about the problem and give them a chance to remedy the situation. Who knows? They may give you the green light to dump or remove the "humongous" problem altogether.

If the owner's trees hang over onto your property, you also are permitted to prune them back, but again, see whether you can arrange this with them beforehand, Lytle said.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to

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