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Overgrown and Messy Gardens

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 25 Jun 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]
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 neighbor 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
Sorry i forgot to mention the third couple have now withdrawn there offer. So its back to square one
oap - 17-Dec-16 @ 2:57 PM
My neighbours entire rear garden is enclosed and penned in by chicken wire to house the cats and dogs. I was told my neighbour had at one time almost 100 cats, though she was made to reduce this number and I believe now just about 15 cats. Our neighbour does not clean up after these animals which in turn causes the odour and flies. The odour and flies are all year round though obviously much worse in the summer months. We are unable to sit out and enjoy our garden and patio. We are unable to invite any of our friends round to sit outside and enjoy. Our son and daughter in-law are reluctant to bring our grandchildren to see us, only if we stay indoors. He says the flies could be a health hazard to our grandchildren. On some days the smell is so bad my wife is unable to hang our washing out, and if she does the back door has to be constantly shut each time she goes in or out. The back door can never be left open. We had new double glazed windows installed March 2015; These windows have never been opened because of the amount of flies, However now that winter is almost here we have found it necessary to open a couple of windows at the front of the property. The reason we have found it necessary is because we have discovered mildew a kind of white substance that has a musty odour on some linen and other materials. We have been told this is caused by poor circulation to our house. The smell of cats was detectable under our stair cupboard and landing cupboard that both share the adjoining wall with our neighbour. I have relined the upstairs cupboard and filled any gaps in the under stairs cupboard. This has helped, though we keep permanent air fresheners in these cupboards. Our neighbor's property and garden is getting to a stage of disrepair. The property is now hardly visible from the road because of overgrown trees, shrubs and vines; the gable end of the property is now completely engulfed in vine and is rapidly spreading across the roof. The guttering to the rear is now blocked and overflows on to our side and down our property wall. There is no guttering at all to the front of the property, I fear this could eventually create damp and spread to our adjoining wall. Our neighbour is causing a health hazard which does not enable us to enjoy both the inside and outside of our property. Our neighbour is allowing her property and land to fall in to disrepair, which is causing our property and others in the surrounding area to decrease in value. My wife and I are both retired; my wife suffers from severe Raynaud’s syndrome. This is a blood circulation problem. She now finds it quite difficult to climb stairs so we have decided to sell our property and seek bungalow. In the past four weeks we have had three very interested couples considering purchasing our property. The first two decided not to proceed after seeing our neighbours property and garden. The third couple liked our property so much they decided to place an offer which we accept
oap - 17-Dec-16 @ 2:52 PM
alizda174 - Your Question:
I have a real problem with my neighbours garden and fence. Usually the fence on the right side (as you look out on to it) is your responsibility but in this instance the previous owners put up a 6ft fence on their side of the boundary line meaning this fence is on their property ergo their responsibility. They moved out approx 6 years ago and the new neighbour quite frankly is a nightmare! The fence is a total state of disrepair literally falling to pieces.If there's no chance of any decent communication between us how can this be resolved? Also, so many weeds and brambles coming over from his garden its a pain!

Our Response:
We're assuming you are both owners and not tenants in this situation. You need to check your deeds to establish who is actually responsible for the fence (it's not always the one on the right). If the previous neighbours erected their own fence on their side of the boundary you cannot do anything about the state of it. If after checking your deeds, you establish that the neighbour is in fact responsible for maintenance of a boundary fence, then you will have to communicate with them somehow to find out what they intend to do about it. Again, your deeds may have specific information about the type of fence required etc (this is not a common thing for older properties). If they refuse, then you might need to consider legal action. If it's not clear who's responsible for the fence, there is nothing to stop you erecting one of your own to disguise the unsightly neighbour's fence. You can also cut back any brambles or weeds that are growing into your property. If you think the weeds constitute a nuisance under the Weeds Act or there is risk of rat infestation etc, then contact your environmental health officer.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Dec-16 @ 10:22 AM
I have a real problem with my neighbours garden and fence.Usually the fence on the right side (as you look out on to it) is your responsibility but in this instance the previous owners put up a 6ft fence on their side of the boundary line meaning this fence is on their property ergo their responsibility.They moved out approx 6 years ago and the new neighbour quite frankly is a nightmare!The fence is a total state of disrepair literally falling to pieces. If there's no chance of any decent communication between us how can this be resolved?Also, so many weeds and brambles coming over from his garden its a pain!
alizda174 - 5-Dec-16 @ 10:01 AM
lis - Your Question:
I threw bread up on my shed roof today and the wind caught it and blew it into next doors garden.Later on I got a phone call from the housing excutive to say she had phoned up to complain about it landing in their garden I couldnt believe it so petty. we did have a lot of trouble moving in from them but a piece of bread that was for the birds I just couldnt believe how low someone could go.

Our Response:
Just ignore it, but do check your housing associations tenancy rules about where you are allowed to leave food for the birds etc.
ProblemNeighbours - 23-Nov-16 @ 11:23 AM
I threw bread up on my shed roof today and the wind caught it and blew it into next doors garden.Later on i got a phone call from the housing excutive to say she had phoned up to complain about it landing in their garden i couldnt believe it so petty. we did have a lot of trouble moving in from them but a piece of bread that was for the birds i just couldnt believe how low someone could go.
lis - 22-Nov-16 @ 6:46 PM
My neighbour has wooden sheds attached to his house, they have now become dilapidated and falling to bits.The roof of one is just hanging off and is very unsightly, it also looks dangerous as we get very high winds living on the north east coast.I have written to him by post but did not put my address asking if they could be tidied up.I have also written to the local council but nothing has been done.Is there anything I can do about this, it really is unsightly to have to look out of my window onto this and I also believe it to be a H&S issue ?
LA - 7-Nov-16 @ 3:32 PM
I live in a semi. My neighbours rent their property. I noticed the garden getting messy as the weeks went by. Theres a old childs gypsy wagon dumped in the garden. Other rubbish like clothes horses, old pet cages. And today i looked out my window and noticed a dead rabbit with string tied round its legs. Across the garden another dead rabbit. I am honestly shocked at how people can do this. In the past the family have caused problems with dogs. These people do not deserve to have a nice property. Nothing is ever done to prevent tenants from wrecking properties.
kay47 - 25-Oct-16 @ 1:10 PM
My neighbours garden garage full of household rubbish her front garden a rite mess and guttering full off grass and weeds i sick of getting pest control as keep having mice what can i do
fellows - 10-Oct-16 @ 5:30 PM
Looloo - Your Question:
My property backs onto a neighbours with a party hedge. Properties were built in approx 1975. The hedge has become overgrown with rubbish such as elderberry, Russian vine which chokes the hedge. I have tended my side for the past 20 years keeping it in check. The house behind me has not been lived in for over 10 years. The garden is an overgrown wilderness both front and back. The owner is believed to live in his mother's house some 5 miles away. I have tried to speak to the owner but neighbours of his say he has not been near for years so I have cut back the Russian vine as it is damaging my plants also. I would like to cut back the hedge, remove menace shrubs that have seeded and erect a new fence straight through the boundary line as this hedge is starving my border of nutrients, light and water. If I write to the owner, through the council and hear nothing from him can I go ahead at my own expense.

Our Response:
You can cut it back to the boundary line anyway, permission is not needed. In view of the circumstances, your suggestion of writing to the neighbour and the council then proceeding with the work is reasonable.
ProblemNeighbours - 21-Sep-16 @ 9:46 AM
My property backs onto a neighbours with a party hedge. Properties were built in approx 1975. The hedge has become overgrown with rubbish such as elderberry, Russian vine which chokes the hedge. I have tended my side for the past 20 years keeping it in check. The house behind me has not been lived in for over 10 years. The garden is an overgrown wilderness both front and back. The owner is believed to live in his mother's house some 5 miles away. I have tried to speak to the owner but neighbours of his say he has not been near for years so I have cut back the Russian vine as it is damaging my plants also.I would like to cut back the hedge, remove menace shrubs that have seeded and erect a new fence straight through the boundary line as this hedge is starving my border of nutrients, light and water. If I write to the owner, through the council and hear nothing from him can I go ahead at my own expense.
Looloo - 19-Sep-16 @ 9:11 AM
I live in a smi the neighbours roof is completely covered in moss which is causing a problem to us by blocking the down pipe can we do anything about she refuses to cooperate
Tiger - 12-Sep-16 @ 5:41 PM
We have a terraced house with a shared garden divided by a shared footpath down the middle. On the neighbours side which is rented out by a man through the local council, the garden is very overgrown with a bike left in it and a few other items. The weeds have started growing through the bike it has been left so long. We have been unable to raise the tenant and the landlord always defers us to the tenant as he always passes the buck. The house is in a general state of disrepair and he's always done the bare minimum as a landlord. However we are trying to sell and it is such an eyesore and have received feedback on this. Can we just get someone to sort it ourselves or can we make the landlord force his tenant to do it or do it himself??
Wondernee - 30-Aug-16 @ 6:57 AM
Tracie - Your Question:
I live in a terraced house and have a problem with the landlord on one side who rents the house out. They have divided their back garden into two. The front half is maintained to an acceptable standard, but the back is used as a dumping ground for building materials, garden waste and occasionally, rubbish. This has resulted in the fence between the properties being severely damaged, not least as a pile of rubble about a foot high is pressing against it, but also because the area is now severely overgrown with aggressive brambles growing through the fence panels. I have been in touch with the letting agency, who have been assuring me for over a year that action will be taken to clear up the mess and replace the fence, but to no avail. I recently discovered that there were rats living in there and informed the letting agency that they had a week before I reported it to environmental health, but again nothing has been done. Any suggestions?

Our Response:
Yes for now, go ahead and report it to environmental health. Maybe they can exert sufficient pressure on the landlord/lettings agent to get the fence fixed and mess cleared up. They will have more success if the fence is perhaps a safety hazard and there is definitely evidence of rats.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Aug-16 @ 10:24 AM
We moved into a terrace property last week and one of our neighbours rents his property from his brother. His garden is crazy overgrown with brambles growing up over the fence, 4ft high grass, a collapsed conservatory and other bits. He has an overgrown tree out the front and a car parked in front of our house in a lay-by that has no MOT, flat tires and is covered in tree dust and sap. I've only spoken with him once and he said he's been working lots so has been finding it hard to maintain the garden and said he will probably need people to do it. I even offered to help but nothing has yet been done. Today we have noticed that there must be a wasps nest as our garden has been full if them and we have had to go inside. I've tried to go round but he is never in the property so not sure what to do. He never has the curtains open and also has a black light always on inside. We have only been here for 2 weeks so don't want to cause problems but need some advice.
Laura - 21-Aug-16 @ 2:54 PM
I live in a terraced house and have a problem with the landlord on one side who rents the house out. They have divided their back garden into two. The front half is maintained to an acceptable standard, but the back is used as a dumping ground for building materials, garden waste and occasionally, rubbish. This has resulted in the fence between the properties being severely damaged, not least as a pile of rubble about a foot high is pressing against it, but also because the area is now severely overgrown with aggressive brambles growing through the fence panels. I have been in touch with the letting agency, who have been assuring me for over a year that action will be taken to clear up the mess and replace the fence, but to no avail. I recently discovered that there were rats living in there and informed the letting agency that they had a week before I reported it to environmental health, but again nothing has been done. Any suggestions?
Tracie - 21-Aug-16 @ 2:45 PM
my neighbour of two yrs has never done any garden up keep, resulting in very overgrown weeds stinging nettles bambles etc. which are coming into my garden & my other neighbour, we have asked if they can cut down weeds etc. but to no avail. yesterday my cat got her head stuck in a glass jar, resulting in my family trying to get to her through all the weeds, cutting ourselves on thrones etc. the whole garden is overgrown. when we pushed the weeds away there was plastic bottles tin cans etc also.I took my cat to the vet where the glass jar was removed,she suffered from stress as her breathing was limited as the the neck of the jar was tight on her throat for over half an hour. this cruel injury would not of happened if the garden was cleared!!! i am so angry because my pet was hurt. The vet bill was £56all because of a neighbour who couldnt care less.
easterbonnet - 18-Aug-16 @ 12:29 PM
I can't give a comment because nothing gets followed up
Pam - 11-Aug-16 @ 8:09 PM
Laura - Your Question:
Hello, me and my husband bought a semi detached house in new development. We were informed from the start that our next door neighbour is a housing association tenant not owning the property her self. She is not mowering her lawn once a year neither in the back garden nor in the front. It is overgrown and weeds are coming into our garden. I had to resow our lawn on the border with her fence as it cought some desease from her side. She lived in the house for more than one year and she still does not have lawn mower. On top of thing she has got a baby and started putting ful baby pampers outside just by the front door. I asked her why she dos it and she went like I usually put it there and then go inside if baby crying and bin it sometime later. There is les than 0.5m between our doors and I don't like her new habit with baby pampers by the front doors. Is there anything I can do? Where can I complain if she is housing association tennant. Would housing association assist her with the garden? She got 3 kids one of which is baby and one disabled. I can understand tha she might lack time even that she is not working but keeping dirty pampers not in the bin definitely is not right. Please advise what can I do in this situation.Many thanks, Laura.

Our Response:
Speak to the Housing Association, she may need/be entitled to some help with the garden and they should be able to get her to change her nappy habit too.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Aug-16 @ 2:33 PM
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