How To Find Your Property Line

Knowing your property lines is essential to being a smart homeowner. Learn the best way to find your property lines without digging up your yard.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

There are a lot of reasons for knowing exactly where you property ends and your neighbor’s begins. Maybe you’re looking to boost your curb appeal by installing a fence, or maybe you want to cut down a tree that’s pushing up the sidewalk, heck, maybe it’s as simple as knowing where to mow. That’s why it’s essential know where your property line is.

The Best Way to Find Your Property Line

You should always request a plot plan from city hall as soon as you move into a house, if one wasn’t provided for you among the stack of real estate documents acquired during the purchasing process. The plot plan is the information on record and will likely be the document realtors and lawyers use when they are called upon.

Most municipalities use iron stakes to mark property lines. Usually, they’re at the corners of the plot and where the property lines meet. Using the plot plan, you can search for the markers. You may get lucky and be able to drag a rake over the suspected location and find the iron stake, but it’s probably going to require something a little more powerful than a rake.

how to find you property lines metal detector stakeFamily Handyman

How To Find Your Property Stake

It is much more common for the stakes to be several inches underground. Not so deep that they match up with the frost line, but deep enough that some digging is necessary. In that case, your best bet is to buy or rent a metal detector. (As a bonus, you can always do a little treasure hunting at the beach!)

When you’ve found your target, dig down to make sure that it’s really a stake and not just a lost quarter.

After you have found the iron property stake, replace the dirt and hammer in a small piece of wood as a visible marker.

Note: If locating your property lines precisely—in a legal dispute, for example—we strongly recommend that you hire a professional surveyor.

Important Things To Remember About Your Property Line

It is always important to know your rights as a homeowner, especially when it comes to property lines. These disputes are the cause of many neighborhood arguments and can be easily stopped with some knowledge. Below are a few reminders:

  • Leaves, pods, acorns, etc. falling onto your property are considered a natural occurrence and are the property owner’s responsibility to clear away.
  • If branches fall and cause damage on your property for any reason other than a storm, your neighbor is responsible for the cleanup and damage.
  • If you and your neighbor compare deeds and the property lines do not match up, you will need to agree to pay for a survey. You have to agree to split the survey, one person cannot bully the other into paying for the survey.

Always check with your local laws before getting into a dispute. Property laws change drastically from state to state.