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Overgrown and Messy Gardens

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 19 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Gardens Neighbours Garden Weeds Problems

Most people will take some pride in their gardens to one degree or another. Of course, some will be keener than others to show off their green fingers, and will want to create a spectacle of colour through the addition of flowers and a well-manicured lawn.

There will, however, be others that do not share the same enthusiasm when it comes to gardening, and will simply give their gardens a ‘once over’ with the lawn mower every few weeks. Then there will be the Problem Neighbours who see their gardens as an excuse to use it as a makeshift area in which to store excess rubbish.

Your Rights

Your Rights when it comes to neighbours’ gardens are governed by a number of laws. Unfortunately, the simple fact that your next door neighbour’s garden is unkempt and a bit overgrown is insufficient to enable you to take action unless it’s contravening the law.

Weeds, Rubbish and Pests

If weeds or brambles and the like in a neighbour’s garden are causing problems on your side of the property boundary, it can amount to a nuisance which you can report to the Environmental Health Department of your local council who can pursue legal action. More information can be found in the Weeds Act 1959.

Rubbish which has been left piled up in a garden is also cause for concern and could attract things like rats, mice and other pests. Obviously, this then creates a health hazard, with the Risk Of Rat Infestation, as well as attracting a whole host of other unwanted pests. Once again, the Environmental Health Department can forcibly order your neighbours to get rid of any rubbish or weeds if they are breaking the law, and legal action can ensue if they fail to do so.

Taking Action Yourself

There are also strict laws on what you can and cannot do when it comes to taking action yourself. For example, you cannot trespass onto the gardens of neighbours to remove any rubbish or foliage yourself. If a neighbour’s hedge, brambles or tree are causing problems on your side of the boundary, you are entitled to prune or remove anything that encroaches onto your side of the boundary, although by law you should offer any clippings back to your neighbours.

However, when it comes to trees, some have a tree preservation order placed upon them and you can be fined if you remove anything other than dead wood. Another possible way to avoid the problem of encroaching weeds is to sink a barrier about 6in (15cm) deep along the boundary of your property.

General Guidelines

Most disputes with neighbours about the state of a garden can usually be resolved by having a polite conversation with them. In fact, most people whose gardens are a bit overgrown and unkempt are often oblivious to the fact that their garden is causing a blight on the neighbourhood, and a quiet word is often enough to get them to do something about it.

Even if there are problems which do contravene the law, it’s usually better to try to resolve the issues first by speaking to your neighbours. If, however, they fail to rectify the problem, then you should seek advice from your local authority’s Environmental Health Department who will determine if your neighbours are breaking the law and whether or not any legal action can be taken, although they'll usually try to resolve the dispute amicably by visiting your neighbours first.

Read our article on Problems with Neighbouring Trees for more information about what you can legally do.

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[Add a Comment]
Tez - Your Question:
I had to had foliage such as trees which all the neighbors had cut down and dumped in Our garden early in the morning when we were asleep. Have had to do something About it or the man told me we'd face a fine. My old aunt didn't want it done our garden wasn't a dump till they dumped their trees and knocked our garden fence down. TheNeighbor hasn't offered anything for the fence dividing the 2 properties. It's cost her nothing. It's cost me £360 pounds. and her gets a old age pension. It's a stupid lawAnd ought to be stopped. Our garden wasTidy to the neighbors dumped their stupid trees on our back garden. Someone came in august telling us to clear their stupid treesAway telling us we could be fined. If they wanted the trees cleared they should have cleared them and payed for it themselves.A stupid law which the government thought up and people are abusing.

Our Response:
Other people cannot "dump" their trees in your garden, this is not how the law works. Common law states that if a neighbour cuts overhanging branches from your tree on their side of the boundary, they must offer them back to you (the tree owner), you do not however, have to accept them. If you refuse to accept them, your neighbour must take steps to dispose of them themselves.
ProblemNeighbours - 20-Nov-17 @ 1:53 PM
I had to had foliage such as trees which all the neighbors had cut down and dumped in Our garden early in the morning when we were asleep . Have had to do something About it or the man told me we'd face a fine . My old aunt didn't want it done our garden wasn't a dump till they dumpedtheir trees and knocked our garden fence down. The Neighbor hasn't offered anything for the fence dividing the 2 properties. It's cost her nothing. It's cost me £360 pounds. and her gets a old age pension. It's a stupid law And ought to be stopped. Our garden was Tidy to the neighbors dumped their stupid trees on our back garden. Someone came in august telling us to clear their stupid trees Away telling us we could be fined . If they wanted the trees cleared they should have cleared them and payed for it themselves. A stupid law which the government thought up and people are abusing.
Tez - 19-Nov-17 @ 12:23 PM
Joe - Your Question:
I have a tree overgrown into my garden from either council or a neighbours land that has knocked half of my dry stone wall over and the high branches have grown that much that they block light to the back of my house. How do I find out who is responsible for the tree

Our Response:
If you do not know who owns the land, first contact the council to see if it belongs to them. If not, HM land registry should be able to supply details. You can ask for costs of repair to your wall or try your own home insurance policy.
ProblemNeighbours - 17-Nov-17 @ 12:43 PM
I have a tree overgrown into my garden from either council or a neighbours land that has knocked half of my dry stone wall over and the high branches have grown that much that they block light to the back of my house. How do i find out who is responsible for the tree
Joe - 16-Nov-17 @ 3:55 PM
Pinkangel - Your Question:
My next doors front garden is well over grown with weeds and stinging nettles that have pushed its way through the fence and taken out half the the room on the public foot path.u try to warn your 3 year old and your 9year old that has ADHD not to run out the gate and run straight into it and end up covered in stings.how can I go about it.

Our Response:
You can cut back any growth on your side of the boundary - you don't need their permission. This will keep the children safe in the front garden at least. If it's growing over the pavement/footpath, the council/highways department should be able to take action.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Nov-17 @ 3:49 PM
My next doors front garden is well over grown with weeds and stinging nettles that have pushed its waythrough the fence and taken out half the the room on the public foot path.u try to warn your 3 year old and your 9year old that has ADHD not to run out the gate and run straight into it and end up covered in stings.how can I go about it.
Pinkangel - 8-Nov-17 @ 10:55 AM
Our neighbour has landscaped her garden covered it with membrane and built decking on top, but they havn't put any drainage along the fence to soak the water up. When it rains the water runs off the decking and under the fence and is causing flooding in our garden. The grass is like marsh land and completely sodden all the time. Surely she should of put sufficient drainage in place?
Tilly - 15-Oct-17 @ 5:45 PM
My neighbours shrubs , weeds and brambles are very overgrown and encroach across into my garden , I have always just cut them back , but now I've seen my neighbour deliberately pushingthe brambles over my side I've politely asked her not to but she is still doing it . What can I do ?
Hans - 7-Sep-17 @ 10:36 PM
In my estate we pay factoring fees to keep the area nice. Across the road from my house a neighbour has started to neglect a bit of their land. It's over grown with weeds and a huge tree. This bit of the garden is next to the pavement and I am scared my little girl falls in it. Is there anything I can do? Would the environmental health department do anything if I reported it?
Kirstin - 24-Aug-17 @ 3:34 PM
My neighbours are renting the property, the garden is unsightly, grass and weeds now passed knee high. I am wanting to sell my house yet I am unable to as people are being put off by the state of the garden next door. I have spoke to there landlord who as advised that they will have to borrow a strimmer as there's is broken this was about 1 month ago. Any suggestions?
JM - 24-Aug-17 @ 11:26 AM
Boo - Your Question:
We have a garage but it's a separate building few steps away.the last neighbour grew those climbing plant onto back of my garage which is the right side of her house as she is the last House.I asked her to trim it when she first planted it two years ago.She did it first time only after speaking to her and dropping a note through her door Now two years later she haven't maintain it and it reached the top of the bricks and willSoon go on the roof which can damage roof tiles.I will speak to her again possibly ask her to remove the plant to save me worrying but what if she refuse.where can we go from there ?

Our Response:
As the garage belongs to you, your neighbour shouldn't actually attach/grow anything to its wall. For this reason you can ask her to completely remove it. The only way to actually force her to do so however, would be via the legal system.
ProblemNeighbours - 17-Aug-17 @ 10:29 AM
we have a garage but it's a separate building few steps away.the last neighbour grew those climbing plant onto back of my garage which is the right side of her house as she is the last House .I asked her to trim it when she first planted it two years ago . She did it first time only after speaking to her and dropping a note through her door Now two years later she haven't maintain itand it reached the top of the bricks and will Soon go on the roof which can damage roof tiles . I will speak to her again possibly ask her to remove the plant to save me worrying but what if she refuse.where can we go from there ?
Boo - 15-Aug-17 @ 9:24 AM
Hi. Our neighbour loves weeds. His weeds are out of control and has damaged our fence to the point we need to buy a new one. He also has ivy now crawling across the top of our house. What can be done? Is he liable for the fence damage? Is there anything we can do to make him keep his weeds from damaging our fence or cutting his ivy? Thanks.
B - 26-Jul-17 @ 8:31 PM
HI.I have a neighbour who, since I've lived here, will do anything to make sure she has the last word towards anything that I do to my property. At the moment the party wall, which I've been told I own but I have no proof, is damaged. I currently have no fence as the bottom part of the garden drops to street level and has a party wall with a soil bed that the fence was running through and continued up the garden. As the wall is damaged I cannot start fencing as ideally the wall needs taking down and a new footing being set before the wall gets re built. As my neighbour likes to have the final say she is forcing all works to stop until she sees fit. Is there anything I can do?
Tony - 13-Jul-17 @ 9:13 PM
gina - Your Question:
Hi. I have cut the massive bush in my front garden with a saw it was a eye sore I can not afford to pay for someone to collect it as I am at present on job seekers but at present it is in my front alleyway I am waiting for it to break down I was thinking of have a bonfire but I don't like to inhale the fumes or add to the pollution. I have seen my neighbour keep looking in my alleyway and they are well known for reporting could you please give me some advice thank you for your help x

Our Response:
Is it a shared alleyway? If so, you may be blocking someone else's route through or creating a fire hazard. You should try and at least maybe bag it up and put it in garden away from the alleyway. Ask your local council if there are any organisations which would take it away for you free of charge.
ProblemNeighbours - 30-Jun-17 @ 2:06 PM
L - Your Question:
My neighbour 4th door down has her back garden mounted with rubbish and overgrown grass can anything be done about this as im worried it may cause rats or mice to come along the street

Our Response:
As the article says: "Rubbish which has been left piled up in a garden is also cause for concern and could attract things like rats, mice and other pests. Obviously, this then creates a health hazard, with the Risk Of Rat Infestation, as well as attracting a whole host of other unwanted pests. Once again, the Environmental Health Department can forcibly order your neighbours to get rid of any rubbish or weeds if they are breaking the law, and legal action can ensue if they fail to do so."
ProblemNeighbours - 30-Jun-17 @ 10:10 AM
Hi.. I have cut the massive bush in my front garden with a saw it was a eye sore I can not afford to pay for someone to collect it as I am at present on job seekers but at present it is in my front alleyway I am waiting for it to break down I was thinking of have a bonfire but I don't like to inhale the fumes or add to the pollution.. I have seen my neighbour keep looking in my alleyway and they are well known for reporting could you please give me some advice thank you for your help x
gina - 30-Jun-17 @ 1:43 AM
My neighbour 4th door down has her back garden mounted with rubbish and overgrown grass can anything be done about this as im worried it may cause rats or mice to come along the street
L - 28-Jun-17 @ 10:13 PM
Lu - Your Question:
We have a 6 foot wooden fence with concrete post which we installed years ago, a year or so ago we replaced the wooden panels. A new neighbour privately renting next door is putting rubbish constantly up against it, filling the 3 foot or so gap between our fence and his concrete sectional garage, it's as high as the six foot panel. His he allowed to do this. He also had a bonfire on his drive about 3 feet from our fence, our conservetory was glowing orange. We get verbal abuse if we say anything. Whilst out in car locally he makes finger gestures to us. Is there anything we can do.

Our Response:
It's worth complaining to his landlord about this. In general a neighbour shouldn't attach or lean anything against your fence. If the landlord isn't willing to act, then you might have to consider taking private legal action.
ProblemNeighbours - 27-Jun-17 @ 12:03 PM
We have a 6 foot wooden fence with concrete post which we installed years ago, a year or so ago we replaced the wooden panels. A new neighbour privately renting next door is putting rubbish constantly up against it, filling the 3 foot or so gap between our fence and his concrete sectional garage, it's as high as the six foot panel. His he allowed to do this. He also had a bonfire on his drive about 3 feet from our fence, our conservetory was glowing orange. We get verbal abuse if we say anything. Whilst out in car locally he makes finger gestures to us. Is there anything we can do.
Lu - 25-Jun-17 @ 3:59 AM
my neighbour has a private landlord. her garden is overgrown with brambles weeds etc stinks of cats and we have something digging under our fence about a 5 inch hole. we keep filling it in but is back the next morning .is there anything we can do
june - 14-Jun-17 @ 10:17 PM
My neighbours garden is full of brambles over 8 feet high. Spoke to Environmental Health Dept at Birmingham City Council who informed me that nothing could be done. Just asked whether they owned their house, which they do. So their response is go to citizens advice. The brambles are coming over my fence and through it. Really fed up with trying to cut the overhanging bits off and keep getting thorns in my hand.
Sue - 26-May-17 @ 3:22 PM
Hi My neighbour refuses to tend to her garden desire repeated requests (polite notes and conversation). We end up cutting her front grass and it still looks awful. The back garden is like a jungle but council won't help until it is 2 metres high? I am desperate as ruins the road and want to sell but worry no one will want to buy our house because of their garden. Can I do anything? Any ideas??
RF28 - 27-Apr-17 @ 7:43 PM
Lian - Your Question:
I would like to report my neighbour for the state her garden is in it is full of rubbish bags etc. This has been going on for a while now and to my horror this morning wake up to a rat in my garden. I would like this matter investigating as a matter of urgency please.

Our Response:
Call your environmental health department as the article says. They will be able to take action especially if it's causing a problem with vermin.
ProblemNeighbours - 11-Apr-17 @ 10:37 AM
I would like to report my neighbour for the state her garden is in it is full of rubbish bags etc. This has been going on for a while now and to my horror this morning wake up to a rat in my garden. I would like this matter investigating as a matter of urgency please.
Lian - 9-Apr-17 @ 8:40 AM
Pedro - Your Question:
Hi.In the bottom corner of the garden I have a good sized Bramble bush that has got a little out of hand and requires attention. Now, this is on my to do list seen as the weather is starring to fair up. The problem is that my neighbour has asked me (in a rather unpleasant way) to remove the Brambles that have grown over onto the top of her Greenhouse. Under civilised circumstances I'd have gotten to it sooner rather than later but due to her attitude and abusive nature towards me I'm rather inclined to hold off on said Brambles until I see fit. So my question is, am I legally obliged to remove the offending brambles from her Greenhouse or can I politely tell her to crack on and do it herself.?

Our Response:
No we don't think bramble comes under the "injurious weeds" category. You are not therefore, compelled to do anything about this unless the fence belongs to your neighbour, in which you should not allow anything to touch it at all (criminal damage).
ProblemNeighbours - 30-Mar-17 @ 2:55 PM
Hi. In the bottom corner of the garden I have a good sized Bramble bush that has got a little out of hand and requires attention. Now, this is on my to do list seen as the weather is starring to fair up. The problem is that my neighbour has asked me (in a rather unpleasant way) to remove the Brambles that have grown over onto the top of her Greenhouse. Under civilised circumstances I'd have gotten to it sooner rather than later but due to her attitude and abusive nature towards me I'm rather inclined to hold off on said Brambles until I see fit. So my question is, am I legally obliged to remove the offending brambles from her Greenhouse or can I politely tell her to crack on and do it herself.?
Pedro - 29-Mar-17 @ 9:43 PM
My neighbour has been throwing lit cigarette butts over our back wall.This wouldn't be a terrible offence, only we have recently purchased a trampoline for my four year old daughter.The lit cigarettes have burnt three holes into the trampoline and I'm fuming. I can't just accuse someone but who would be so bad as to throw LIT cigarette butts, where children play?? Don't know what I can do ????
Jess - 10-Feb-17 @ 4:55 PM
my neighbouring house always rented out. front and back gardens full of overflow skip front back full of rubbish left domestic appliances, mattresses. to whom department of Hounslow council be reported. request address. G.sidhu
George - 30-Jan-17 @ 6:38 PM
oap - Your Question:
Sorry I forgot to mention the third couple have now withdrawn there offer. So its back to square one

Our Response:
Please make a complaint to your environmental health officer about this, they should be able to take action.
ProblemNeighbours - 19-Dec-16 @ 12:43 PM
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