By this term is understood in general, every separation, natural or artificial, which marks the confines or line of division of two contiguous estates.
Boundary also signifies stones or other materials inserted in the earth on the confines of two estates.
Boundaries are either natural or artificial. A river or other stream is a natural boundary and in that case the centre of the stream is the line.
An artificial boundary is one made by man.
The description of land in a deed by specific boundaries is conclusive as to the quantity; and if the quantity be expressed as a part of the description it will be inoperative, and it is immaterial whether the quantity contained within the specific boundaries be greater or less than that expressed; and the same rule is applicable, although neither the courses and distances nor the estimated contents correspond with such specific boundaries; but these rules do not apply in cases where adherence to them would be plainly absurd.
When a boundary, fixed and by mutual consent, has been permitted to stand for twenty-one years, it cannot afterwards be disturbed. In accordance with this rule it has been decided that where town lots have been occupied up to a line fence between them for more than twenty-one years each party gained an incontrovertible right to the line thus established, and this whether either party knew of the adverse claim or not; and whether either party has more or less ground than was originally in the lot he owns.
Boundaries are frequently marked by partition fences, ditches, hedges, trees, etc. When such a fence is built by one of the owners of the land, on his own premises, it belongs to him exclusively; when built by both at joint expense, each is the owner of that part on his own land. When the boundary is a hedge and a single ditch, it is presumed to belong to him on whose side the hedge is, because he who dug the ditch is presumed to have thrown the earth upon his own land, which was alone lawful to do, and that the hedge was planted, as is usual, on the top of the bank thus raised. But if there is a ditch on each side of the hedge, or no ditch at all, the hedge is presumed to be the common property of both proprietors. A tree growing in the boundary line is the joint property of both owners of the land.
Disputes arising from a confusion of boundaries may be generally settled by an action at law. But courts of equity will entertain a bill for the settlement of boundaries when the rights of one of the parties may be established upon equitable grounds.
This entry contains material from Bouvier's Legal Dictionary, a work published in the 1850's.
Courtesy of the 'Lectric Law Library