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Overgrown and Messy Gardens

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 19 Nov 2019 | 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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I live & own an ex social housing mid terrace town house, it has a shared entry for access into back gardens. There is no fence between us at the front because previous neighbour cut down hedge without anyone's permission & had a 'makeshift' fencewhich didn't last very long! For the past 5 years I have had seemingly ok neighbours, however they leave their 4 wheely bins where the border is between us & put access unwanted household items either side, including just on the border of our said properties. They continually block the access entry with bikes despite me speaking to them and having to ask them to remove them everytime I want access. I have also spoke to them, on several occassions, about the mess on the front, with which they then 'get rid of a few items' only for access rubbish to begin again! I have spoken to the local council about the border & after a lengthy conversation the conclusion was that they [the council] are prepared to go halves with me (because I own my house!) to have fence installed, however, I myself have to do all the 'leg work' -get 3 qoutes, send to them & with which they will then make a final decision! Neighbours don't really care about having a fence despite the 'lip service' they give me when I approach them about said mess but it still continues, including children using my front to get out with their bikes (when they think I'm not looking) & again despite me telling them several times not to use it as throughfare, added to this my daughters boyfriend car window was smashed while parked on my drive & the neighbours denied all knowledge of it even though they were the only ones in the vicinity & mowing their grass at the front! They go to work, have a very decent car, & spend money profusely on nice things & yet they continue to use the front in this unkempt manner! I really don't understand the logic to be honest & would like to know where I stand on this? Thank you for any response, I'm at my wits end!
Kah - 19-Nov-19 @ 9:53 AM
I live & own an ex social housing mid terrace town house, it has a shared entry for access into back gardens. There is no fence between us at the front because previous neighbour cut down hedge without anyone's permission & had a 'makeshift' fencewhich didn't last very long! For the past 5 years I have had seemingly ok neighbours, however they leave their 4 wheely bins where the border is between us & put access unwanted household items either side, including just on the border of our said properties. They continually block the access entry with bikes despite me speaking to them and having to ask them to remove them everytime I want access. I have also spoke to them, on several occassions, about the mess on the front, with which they then 'get rid of a few items' only for access rubbish to begin again! I have spoken to the local council about the border & after a lengthy conversation the conclusion was that they [the council] are prepared to go halves with me (because I own my house!) to have fence installed, however, I myself have to do all the 'leg work' -get 3 qoutes, send to them & with which they will then make a final decision! Neighbours don't really care about having a fence despite the 'lip service' they give me when I approach them about said mess but it still continues, including children using my front to get out with their bikes (when they think I'm not looking) & again despite me telling them several times not to use it as throughfare, added to this my daughters boyfriend car window was smashed while parked on my drive & the neighbours denied all knowledge of it even though they were the only ones in the vicinity & mowing their grass at the front! They go to work, have a very decent car, & spend money profusely on nice things & yet they continue to use the front in this unkempt manner! I really don't understand the logic to be honest & would like to know where I stand on this? Thank you for any response, I'm at my wits end!
Kah - 19-Nov-19 @ 9:52 AM
Who do I complain to about broken, unused furniture which has been in my neighbours front garden for over a month?
Bowesy - 19-Oct-19 @ 12:01 PM
A long story but I'll try to cut it short. New neighbour wanted work done on rear garden but the only reasonable access to could get was through my garden. Permission was sort with the agreement of her removing dividing fence and putting it back up. 3/4 weeks later the fence is still down and the soil/mud is still very much there and partly covering my garden. My garden is now not safe for my children to play in it. Said neighbour now refuses to talk to me after several attempts made and I get completely ignored. My question, can I pay for work to be carried out to repair the fence and remove the soil and bill my neighbour for it? Or would I be better speaking with my neighbours landlord to try to resolve the matter? Mtia
Jacki - 27-Aug-19 @ 7:54 PM
Just so people are aware it is classed as trespassing which is an offence if you remove rubbish and or cut back trees, bushes ,and grass which is not on your land.
Law - 12-Jun-19 @ 4:44 PM
I live in a 1930 house which is converted into two flats. The two flats are Leasehold, I own the ground floor & neighbour owns the first floor, in the lease it states neighbour is responsible for the upkeep of the front and making sure access is kept clean and giving access to ground floor flat to enable access to bins etc. The first floor tenant will not obey to the terms of the lease, I have confronted them and written and explained when weed becomes over grown it becomes a health and safety to myself, service users and visitors. It becomes very slipper and looks very untidy and intern people are throwing things due to The untidiness.
Liz - 4-Jun-19 @ 6:27 PM
Neighbors garden is really unkempt very occasionally they will attempt to cut it then leave all cuttings in middle of the garden. Old sofas outside, rats in gardens but not certain where they are coming from. Brambles and large bush blocks light to our life living room window. I’ve asked politely for him to cut the bush back but he’s not lifted a finger in the garden her excuse is she has a child whom has disabilities and her partner works nights and that we should offer to help them. Hubby works full time I have a child, a sick father and sick in laws too to care for. What can I do?
Ad - 16-May-19 @ 8:51 PM
I have a neighbour upstairs leaving refuse bags& a mattress since October& yesterday another 1, textiles in bags. Metal objects& general domestic items. Have tried clarion housing& have taken several photographs. Can I post them with a complaint? He'll leave the bins making me have to clean up the mess. I tried asking but I feel I'm taken advantage of.
Pauli - 3-May-19 @ 8:29 PM
You should see what we look at out the back, mattress been there about 2 years, bags of rubbish, bags of dog bedding plus dog s#it and Colostomy bags hanging out the bathroom window, been reported to Charnwood Borough Council 3 times since January,seems like the council can't be bothered with their property.
Lil - 16-Mar-19 @ 2:22 PM
We have a shared drive, split 50/50 between houses. Our neighbour has a large quantity of wood and other rubbish stacked against his house wall. This is on his side. But he stores a trailer that blocks our access to back garden. He then parks car between gate posts further preventing access. What is my position asked him to get rid of rubbish, but he just laughs.
Col - 31-Dec-18 @ 9:52 AM
Hello , my neighbours have been harrassing us for years, made false allegations about uswith the other neighbours , we had to havelawyer butat the meeting with council official it was all dismissed. But the neighbours never stop harrassing us, we keep to ourselves and have CCTV for protection. On the front garden there is a small part of the front porch that has a window that opens in our garden .Last week we saw our neighbour hang CHRISTMAS LIGHTS through the window , they shine into our garden and lounge window, flickering and flashing constantly, causing light pollution and disturbing us as we sit right near our window. The neighbour has hanged them on the gutter , its the 'dangling ones' also has put a string to stop us from moving them to the top of the roof of the porch as we did year before. This is our property and he has no right to do so, but he will do anything to harrass and provoche us, this lights make me anxious as there is always the danger of fire ,I am disabled and get stressed and they have left them on all day while they are out ,also we don't know if the light meet safety standard , also the light pollution is very disturbing, any advice is welcome,the neighbours are bully and disrespectful and do all they can to cause distress. Thank you.
LUCILLA - 17-Dec-18 @ 10:35 PM
I have a neighbour whose 4' fence is delapidated, his bindweed, brambles and other grasses and weeds are at least 9' tall. I have managed to cope with the bindweed but the brambles invade the garden very fast now he has cut a plum tree in half I have over 20 suckers coming up in my garden. As I am 80 and have osteoporosis I am at a loss as to how to cope. Near the house I offered to have 3 panels (6') high put up at my cost but was refused. I cannot put these my side of his fence as it will block access to a small path and back gate. HELP and ideas please
Soggy Moggy - 30-Nov-18 @ 1:09 PM
Nieghbours garden is overgrown. I’ve asked them if they can cut down trees on their side as it blocks our living room window but this was over a year ago still nothing done! Old sofas in garden, overgrown brambles in garden some bushes etc spill out onto public footpath. Rats have been seen running through the gardens. Old sofa was removed then next few days another one appears that’s now been there for several weeks. I mentioned about rats she was very nasty and refused to talk to me about the garden. They bring a strummer out once a year have a bbq then that’s it. I will try to approach her again before I seek help but council have already been and still nothing has been done. Excuse is she has 2 girls 1 with needs and partner works nights!
Andi70 - 11-Nov-18 @ 9:33 AM
My neighbour has rubbish bags in her back garden.she has food waste,dirty matrasses and overgrown grass and weeds. She lives in a private property and me a council property. She's the sort who s and blinds at her kids all the time so don't want to approach her. I asked her if she had a strimmer a few weeks ago so I could cut the weeds on her side of the garden as they were encroaching onto my garden and she told me that she doesn't give f@@@. I'm a fair person so give people a chance,but the rubbish has been in her garden about 8 months including food rubbish. Could I go to the council and complain. Any ideas pleas before we get infested with rats and mice. Thanks.
Johno - 7-Nov-18 @ 3:56 PM
I would really welcome advise about a very distressing situation with my neighbour.I think he has some mental health issues and we've always been very patient and kind about his grossly overgrown garden, often used as a dumping site.But over the past 3 years the climbing weeds have grown so wild they're bringing the phone lines down above, and they have formed a sort of canopy on which foxes were nesting and coming over into our garden via our shed roof.None of that is the issue, really - because I gently prodded for 2 - 3 years that he just needed even to firefight it by cutting the overgrowth. He said he'd do it in the winter so it was easier to see, then didn't do it - so year after year it got worse.My husband and I suggested getting the council to help, but he has beef with the council over numerous other things and wouldn't let them in his house.Anyway, long story short - he finally got someone to have a look, and they found that roots from one of the main weeds was behind his garden wall, and behind our garden fence (which we didn't put up) - so in between.He said that was our responsibility.My husband went over to his garden and spent a whole day cutting the growth and chopping the by now very mature roots, as much as he could, as a favour - because clearly his neglect had made the garden such a disaster.But some months on, he's now got gardeners in to overhaul, pull down the now dead overgrowth, etc - and is saying because the roots were on our land, it's our responsibility to pay. He's been very abusive, says we owe his gardeners (who he's told that we have agreed to pay!) £400 - and he'll take us to court etc etc. and that WE were bringing the phone lines down because they are OUR weeds.He didn't even know where the roots were coming from because his garden was so overgrown and neglected.He's been very confrontational and abusive, which is giving me a lot of anxiety when in fact we've been kind and patient with him for years.Can anyone tell me, does he have a leg to stand on legally? Sorry for long post, but I'd be really grateful to know if he's just posturing.
Liz - 3-Sep-18 @ 12:13 PM
We are struggling to get our neighbour to sort out the boundary fence along the side of our two houses. Every winter at least one panel falls down/apart so we have offered totally at our expense to supply and erect all new sturdier fencing, we have made this offer twice in the last 6months to try and get it done before any bad weather, the only response we have had both times was “i’ll Think about it”some of the panels are falling apart with shards of wood and nails sticking out and we have to be very vigilant if our grandchildren visit and want to play near them. Is there anything else we can do???
Sarahc - 31-Aug-18 @ 2:16 PM
There is an oak tree growing in our next door neighbour's front garden. The property in question is unoccupied and has been for several years after the owner died. Ownership passed onto a sister living in the property next door to the property in question. She died over two years ago. Since that time, the oak tree has grown from seed and now stands at about 4 feet high. My concerns are that: the tree's roots might cause a problem to both properties; the tree will obscure our property and that gives me concern for our security; as the tree gets bigger it will be very difficult to remove. I am not able to communicate with the neighbour two door's away about the problem, as they do not open their door to people, and I do not think they would respond to my concerns, even if I could talk to him. I did ring the council about the matter and they say it is a civil matter. But I do not know whom I need to contact and I don't want to start legal proceedings. All I really want is that the tree can be cut down before it causes greater concerns. I would be grateful for any advice.
Sue - 23-Aug-18 @ 9:38 AM
I live next to a student house , the owner owns several . The problem is the fence fell down in the front garden on his side , I paid for and had all the fence between the houses .I have asked several times for it to be replaced over the last two years. The whole of the garden looks a right mess , he puts weed killer down , I have pets. The bushes all hang over the pavement which prevents people getting past. They should not be aloud these houses if they refuse to maintain them
Til - 22-Aug-18 @ 6:41 PM
Berni Moir - Your Question:
I broke my foot and ankle on the acorns and tree waste my neighbour leaves on the pavement outside their house Their trees are so large and over hanging into the road. They actually cover the street light so it’s hard to see the pavement I am in serious pain and will need further treatment, I will now have to miss holidays and breaks that I have paid for, do I approach the council first or look to sue these neighbours?

Our Response:
Talk to the council first. A tree owner is usually responsible for trimming back branches that are overhanging the highway/pavement and causing an obstruction, but they're not necessarily responsible for sweeping up falling leaves, acorns etc.
ProblemNeighbours - 22-Aug-18 @ 11:23 AM
I broke my foot and ankle on the acorns and tree waste my neighbour leaves on the pavement outside their house Their trees are so large and over hanging into the road. They actually cover the street light so it’s hard to see the pavement I am in serious pain and will need further treatment, I will now have to miss holidays and breaks that I have paid for, do I approach the council first or look to sue these neighbours?
Berni Moir - 22-Aug-18 @ 8:32 AM
Both neighbours are obnoxious due to (a)noise at unsocial hours (Environmental Health involved as we have to endure hammering, drilling and banging any time day and night (at start it was from 8.00 until 1.00am non stop as was on relays and (b) smoke pollution and again noise. One side (a) has weeds growing up our fences and through on both sides and regularly cuts the large shrub at the front but never clears it up near our side or currently has cleared none of them. Cuttings and leaves all accumulate on our side, when the leaves die they are difficult to sweep up as they crumble. She also throws glass over from when previous neighbour took ill and police had to smash the door down, this happened twice. Side (b) uses our fence and shed to prop up tools which overhang our garden. Despite pushing them back they just put them back. They smoke near our fence and she comes out every time I venture into the garden or when we come in. Not when my husband is on his own. We also get their butts in our garden (counting over 200 so far in recent months)and any other rubbish the kids toss over. They also put glass into our garden which was not ours but his when he was clearing out their shed. I asked nicely about the smoking near our fence and could she move away from the fence as I have a lung problem (had chronic bronchitis at the time and suffer now with asthma and recently blood clots in the lungs, both attributed to 2nd hand smoke by 2 senior chest physicians). Her answer was "er no" then she proceeded to tell anyone who would listen (all smokers) that I told her that she could not smoke in her garden and told me I had a fake cough! She lies and throws tantrums in the street if she cannot park in the road although they have a garage and 2 spaces. She smokes so near our house (3 feet) that we cannot open doors and windows as it comes in even upstairs. Both neighbours objected to 2 vans being parked, one on our drive the other in a legal space on the road, not interfering with either, (a) said OUR drive was a shared drive, (not according to Land Registry although she has parked on our drive many times stopping us getting onto our property despite them having 3 spaces for 2 cars), other side said she could not get her kids out of car, real reason was she wanted the space in the road. That van was not blocking her drive and not hindering the kids getting out as she parked on her drive. We would like to move but to my health problems this year cannot think of it until next year. Also we will have to admit problems with neighbours as we have involved Environmental Health and police (this was when he threatened me and called me a pervert as he accused me of looking out the bedroom window - it was actually my husband looking out which he told him, but he did not believe him and there were no kids out at the time so my husband said), which will hamper any sale. We hesitate to contact the EH or police again as it will.inflame the situation however I feel a pri
Sammysmum - 15-Aug-18 @ 5:42 PM
Over grown garden council come and cut the stingy nettles back but due too the garden next too it not being touched the whole time I've been here it grows back quicker it's getting beyond now I usally have to make sure my 2 year old don't touch now got to make sure my 7 year old is carefull too as nearly walked into one at face level
Martine - 14-Aug-18 @ 10:08 PM
I have planted a native species garden bed in my backyard.Most of it lines the road.Someone has complained to the authorities about the tall grass. The authorities came to me and I explained.I am hurt because I planned this space for the wildlife and the fussy neighbours are all about manicuring their places, I guess.Makes me sad.
Betsy - 4-Aug-18 @ 3:30 AM
L - Your Question:
Our neighbour’s plants are climbing up against our rear garden fences. We also noticed that all their tall hedges are planted (not free standing) right next to our rear garden fence (I.e leaning against our fence). They also piled up all their garden waste and rubbish against one of the board, further damaging our rear garden fences causing it to collapse slightly towards our side.We knocked on their door and kindly asked them to remove those waste but they write to us, telling us off because we knock on their door uninvited (that we are trespassing). Who can we report this to and is it illegal that we point it out to them by inform them face-to-face.

Our Response:
Damage to your fence by the neighbour's plants/hedge is a civil matter that should be dealt with by the courts if you cannot resolve it amicably. If you consider the rubbish to be a hygiene/health issue, report it to environmental health.
ProblemNeighbours - 30-Jul-18 @ 2:59 PM
Our neighbour’s plants are climbing up against our rear garden fences. We also noticed that all their tall hedges are planted (not free standing) right next to our rear garden fence (I.e leaning against our fence). They also piled up all their garden waste and rubbish against one of the board, further damaging our rear garden fences causing it to collapse slightly towards our side. We knocked on their door and kindly asked them to remove those waste but they write to us, telling us off because we knock on their door uninvited (that we are trespassing). Who can we report this to and is it illegal that we point it out to them by inform them face-to-face.
L - 27-Jul-18 @ 12:46 PM
Melon - Your Question:
My neighbours just fixed they are windows, they changed all the windows, and after that they burned the old windows in the garden at nights.this windows still had a glass on it. All the smoked come inside my daughter bedroom, the smell very strong, Im worried about my daughter, I had to make her sleep in the living room, I dont want my daughter have problem. I told them to stop it but they keep carrying on burn waste till 1hour.This neighbours garden is so mess too, old sofa, carpet and rubbish a lot in they are garden. I have take some pictures of it. The thing make me dont want a call council because everyone know each other in my areas. And worries if they break our car out side. We do want a move from this area, but is to expensive to move house, as we need a lot money for deposit. So we just stuck here :(We dont know what to do any more. Any advice please

Our Response:
The solution for nuisance behaviour is usually to contact the police or the council, depending on the nature of the behaviour e.gbonfires at 1am and the rubbish in the garden (if it presents a health hazard) would be environmental health; if your car is vandalised that is of course a matter for the police. There's not much you can do if you are unwilling to contact the council and the neighbour is ignoring your polite requests to stop.
ProblemNeighbours - 25-Jul-18 @ 2:00 PM
My neighbours just fixed they are windows, they changed all the windows, and after that they burned the old windows in the garden at nights.this windows still had a glass on it. All the smoked come inside my daughter bedroom, the smell very strong, Im worried about my daughter,I had to make her sleep in the living room, I dont want my daughter have problem. I told them to stop it but they keep carrying on burn waste till 1hour. This neighbours garden is so mess too, old sofa, carpet and rubbish a lot in they are garden. I have take some pictures of it. The thing make me dont want a call council because everyone know each other in my areas. And worries if they break our car out side. We do want a move from this area, but is to expensive to move house, as we need a lot money for deposit. So we just stuck here :( We dont know what to do any more. Any advice please
Melon - 22-Jul-18 @ 11:12 PM
i have been trying to sell my house for 1 year now. i am getting loads of viewings but it isnt selling because of my neighbour. his back garden is like a jungle and in the front garden there is a big old rusty van with a trailer which is also overgrown i have been to the council but it is a bought house they cant do anything i havebeen to enviromental health and they said he can put whatever he wants in his garden. please can you give me advice. thank you
Angel - 20-Jul-18 @ 4:56 PM
My neighbour has kept 'her garden' (despite it being a communal one no one else is allowed access too cause she locks it) very well taken care of. except for the part where i can exit into the garden which is over grown and causing damage to my walls/windows and door. You can't even see out of the window anymore. I have spoken to my council, my housing officer and the neighbour but no one will do/refuse to do anything. What are my other options?
Catalina - 14-Jul-18 @ 12:08 PM
My neighbours hedge/bush is very over grown it hangs over to plate garden and a lot of leaves fall off. It also blocks some sun. I’ve just popped my head over and the garden is all very overgrown so I’m assuming there not bothered. The leaves don’t really bother me although if I was allowed I’d get a hedge trimmer and take the lot of! There is a strong smell of cat/Fox poo, I can’t see if there is any there as it’s so overgrown. A cat/Fox did poo in our garden the other day I can’t see any more but we’ve had Astro turf Laid and apprantley they won’t go on that. I’ve searched everywhere in my garden and can’t see any poo.
Curtis - 5-Jul-18 @ 12:55 PM
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