Clearly Mark Your Property Boundaries

As a landowner, it is your responsibility to know and mark the locations of your property boundaries. If there is no recent survey, there is more information available on licensed surveyors.

  • Trees on the property line belong to both landowners, whether or not the line is marked as a boundary. Accordingly, removal of a tree on or near a boundary line could be construed as theft.
  • If differences with adjoining landowners can't be resolved, agree to a "buffer" zone in which neither landowner will harvest without further discussion and/or establish a tree by tree agreement.
  • An old convention was to assign every other tree along a long boundary to each land owner.
  • It is particularly important that non-specific deed descriptions such as "to the creek," or "to the pile of stones by the big beech tree" be reconciled.
  • A metes and bounds survey showing benchmarks and location of marker stakes in the ground can be definitive. In court, wire through the trees and other "historic" indicators likely will not adequately prove a property boundary.

Boundaries should be marked in as many ways as may be practical. The objective is to make it extremely unlikely that anyone walking through the woods would miss the fact of a boundary.

  • Where practical, a roadway or trail along the line may help accentuate the blazes, signs, and painted trees on the boundary. Such trails must be maintained to remain open, and may be more apparent in the summer than with snow cover.
  • When the exact location of the boundary line is known, blazes provide a long-lasting mark, and periodic painting keeps them seen more easily. Trees should be blazed only by a surveyor, and/or when the exact location of a property line is known.
  • If a tree is on the line, blaze each side of the tree on the axis of the line. If the tree is off the line (but probably only trees within 3-4 feet of the line), blaze the face of the tree facing the line. The three blazes at each corner should face the corner stake.
  • You may also try painting three horizontal rings at head-height around each tree you wish to mark on the boundary line, but bark does not always display paint very well.
  • Use brightly-painted angle irons or pipes 3-4 feet high to effectively mark a boundary line.
  • Posting property marks a boundary and provides an added measure of protection through state law providing a landowner's right to prohibit trespassing for any purpose. Some owners use the "ask me" signs, which, for example, invite interested parties to ask for permission to hunt. Any signs you post must be properly placed and maintained.
    • Signs must be at least 11 inches square, include the owner's name and address, and be placed not more than 660 feet apart. At least one sign must be set on each side of the protected area and on each side of each corner.
    • Ideally, extra signs are placed so that one is visible wherever the boundary is crossed. Landowners must replace illegible signs within a year.

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