We’re told good fences make good neighbours, but not everyone can rely on a well-placed picket.

Feuds between people living next door to one another are so common that they are now a mainstay of TV sitcoms, with the busybody nimby an instantly recognisable character.

But there are some levels of neighbourly pedantry and aggression that extend beyond hand-written letters and complaints to the council, as one household learned the hard way.

Bharat Mistry, 56, said he and his family were left "gutted" when their nextdoor neighbours called in specialists to cut away half the branches of the fir tree that had stood outside their home for 25 years.

An image of the result has gone viral on social media, showing the once-noble plant completely bare down one side.

Mistry said the memeification of his front lawn had transformed it into a tourist site, explaining: “We’ve had a lot of people walking past to look at it, people you can just tell have come out of their way to walk their dog on a different route to have a look.

“People have stopped to take pictures, there has been a lot posted on social media. You think we’d probably do the same if it was another house, but it does feel a bit like an invasion of privacy.”

The drastic action followed a year-long dispute between Mistry and Graham and Irene Lee, both in their 70s, in the Sheffield suburb of Waterthorpe.

The 56-year-old, who lives with his wife and two daughters, said that the neighbours had got on well until the first Covid lockdown began when the argument over the tree kicked off.

The 16ft fir before its brutal mutilationBharat Mistry/SWNS

He claimed the Lees complained that birds in the tree were making too much noise and making a mess of their driveway.

Speaking about his beloved fir, Mistry said: "It has been there for 25 years and we'd trimmed it into a ball shape with agreement with the neighbour and he has been fine about it.

"But recently there have been birds in the tree which you would expect at this time of the year. He started off by putting black bin liners in the tree to stop the birds sitting there.

"Last weekend he said he was going to get a tree surgeon to cut it down and we asked him not to but they came on Friday and did it.”

He went on: “We were absolutely distraught. We pleaded and pleaded with them not to do it, but their mind was made up. That tree was coming down.

“I believe he has the right to cut down anything that is overhanging onto his property. But you have to ask, why after 25 years would you do that?”

Mistry confirmed that he hadn’t spoken to the Lees since.

The poor tree was brutally shorn in halfMatthew Lofthouse/SWNS

A photo of the scene was widely shared on Reddit after one user posted it with the caption “some traditional British pettiness on display.”

The Redditor’s post racked up more than 32,600 likes in just two days, as viewers shared their own experiences of nightmare neighbours.

One wrote that she lives next to an old woman “who will literally chase me down in my car if I’ve forgotten to pull my bin back from the curb within 30 minutes of returning from work.”

Another replied that she is Facebook friends with one neighbour who “sends me messages on messenger if I don’t bring my bin in fast enough”.

“She’s only in her 40s,” she added. ”So it doesn’t bode well for future neighbours.”

And a third recounted how one “busybody” living in the house behind theirs once “climb[ed] over the wall and cut down a hazel that blocked the smallest part of his sea view” while they and their partner were at work.

“We were actually pretty shaken and reported him straight to the police,” they continued. “They frightened the life out of him and we left it there, never heard a peep out of him after that!

Meanwhile, other users hit out at troublesome neighbours more generally.

“People just go insane in their little worlds,” one wrote. “Any encroachment on their s*** just reminds them of their powerlessness and impending end.”

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