Is it wrong to take cuttings from someone’s yard without asking?

Gardeners know that sharing cuttings among friends is common practice, but when it comes to helping yourself it's another matter! Source: Getty Images

Is taking a cutting from someone else’s yard a neighbourly sin? Some say it’s okay, provided you don’t damage the plant and take only small amounts. Others consider the practise extremely rude and akin to stealing.

As wrong as some believe it is, it’s not uncommon for passionate gardeners to share cuttings amongst friends, but when it comes to helping yourself it’s another matter. One woman made headlines after she was caught on camera stealing roses from a neighbour’s front yard.

We previously asked readers from the Starts at 60 community for their thoughts on the matter and got a mixed response.

Maureen G said she thought it was wrong, adding: “I have had complete plants stolen from my front garden and it made me feel sad, deflated, angry, mistrusting and disinterested in my own garden for some time.”

Denise G also had plants stolen and said: “I have an orange tree in my garden that was almost stripped of its fruit by greedy people who had to come in through a closed gate. I was not happy.”

Others, however, thought the fence barrier determined whether you could take a cutting without permission.

Kaye K humorously said: “I may have a past guilty recollection of picking some flowers hanging over the fence!”

Barbara E remembers her grandmother sneaking a few cuttings back in the day: “My grandmother used to go for her evening walks with secateurs in hand to help herself to overhanging plants that would grow from cuttings. Occasionally when she saw a fine specimen in a yard she would go knock on the door and ask for a cutting. She was generous however with cuttings from her own garden.”

Is it illegal?

According to the Queensland Police, the legality of taking cuttings from other people’s yards is a grey area, and reported incidents would have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. When previously questioned on the matter, a Queensland Police spokesperson told Starts at 60 there are three factors that could play a role in convicting someone for taking a cutting — these include trespass, stealing, and public nuisance.

According to the State Government, the definition of stealing is to take something that belongs to another person without consent and having no intention of returning it — in many cases taking cuttings without consent fits into this category.

So what’s the best etiquette?

The best way to avoid conflict or any confusion would be to ask the owner for permission before helping yourself to a cutting.

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