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Overgrown and Messy Gardens

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 11 Nov 2018 | 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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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
Hi. My neighbours garden is very overgrown,his thick weeds are higher than my hedges. There is also a lot of metal dumped. I can't open my conservatory Windows or doors because I get lots of large bluebottle flies coming in, which I'm sure come from his garden. I've had pest control in about rats coming from there . Please can you help. Am sure he would take more notice of authority.
Symo - 4-Jul-18 @ 7:07 PM
Jasper - Your Question:
My neighbours have tons of rubbish bags on their property which has attracted rats. I have had the councils environmental health round to lay poison down several times on my property and at my expense. They said there were no nests on my property, the one hole was just a run through to the neighbours. I have also reported the problem about next doors rubbish but basically been told to mind my own business.Can I go higher than my council as the problem is getting worse & the rats are huge. We don’t want them getting in the houses. My neighbours the other side sre elderly and unwell. It’s stressful for them. Where do I go next, help please !

Our Response:
If pest control has identified the hole as a "run-through",because of your neighbour's rubbish then environmental health should be able to take action to force your neighbour to clean up the property, or arrange for a contractor to do so and re-charge your neighbour. If you do not think the council has taken the necessary action under its statutory duties, then follow the council's complaints procedure, which should be documented on their website.
ProblemNeighbours - 2-Jul-18 @ 2:20 PM
My neighbours have tons of rubbish bags on their property which has attracted rats. I have had the councils environmental health round to lay poison down several times on my property and at my expense. They said there were no nests on my property, the one hole was just a run through to the neighbours. I have also reported the problem about next doors rubbish but basically been told to mind my own business. Can I go higher than my council as the problem is getting worse &the rats are huge.We don’t want them getting in the houses. My neighbours the other side sre elderly and unwell. It’s stressful for them. Where do I go next, help please !
Jasper - 1-Jul-18 @ 12:19 PM
The man next door has allowed his fences to start falling down(they have been there 30 years)and now all his soil from his garden keeps falling in to mine.I have asked him many times if he could deal with it but he refuses,is there anything I can do?
Froggie - 1-Jun-18 @ 9:46 PM
For over a year I have been trying to get Scottish Borders Housing Association who is the landlordof the house next door to deal with their very unkeptgarden , but greeted with the same answer every time, (I know its a mess but Its in hand). It is getting very frustrating dealing with them, as I have been left with no confidence at all that something will be done. Our neighbour does not have the ability to attend to her garden, for reasons I wont go into. We have recently installed a thin artificial hedge (Screen), but very soon the weeds and brambles are going to start coming through again and damaging our hedge screen, which we paid over 150 pounds for, we stay in the Scottish Borders and have recently found out that very little can be done.
BS - 1-Jun-18 @ 4:41 PM
Our neighbours garden is badly overgrown we want erect a fence but feel thebramble will come through and damage it . T its crossing into our garden . The landlord dont give a ..what can we do
Shelle - 22-May-18 @ 4:16 PM
JM - Your Question:
Our neighbours garden has always been untidy, he collects and stores wood to burn,it hasn't bothered us much but we are now trying to sell our property and our estate agent has said that the neighbours garden is detrimental to our selling as potential purchasers have discounted our property owing to the mess in the neighbours front garden. We had not realised how much the wood pile had increased topped off with tyres and bicycle. Talking to our neighbour would not be an option as he has no where else to put the wood and could not dispose of it easily. What can we do?

Our Response:
There really isn't much you can do about this. The council may take action (as the article above details) if the garden is a potential health hazard. If the front garden is unsightly there is a slight possibility that the planning department may be able to take action under section 215 of the town and country planning act but it's not often used for this kind of thing. You could possibly consider mediation or court action, but if the neighbour has nowhere else to put his wood perhaps suggesting a more attractive storage solution might be wise and then offering to help with disposal of the other items?
ProblemNeighbours - 16-May-18 @ 12:35 PM
Our neighbours garden has always been untidy,he collects and stores wood to burn,it hasn't bothered us much but we are now trying to sell our property and our estate agent has said that the neighbours garden is detrimental to our selling as potential purchasers have discountedour property owing to the messin the neighboursfront garden. We had not realised how much the wood pile hadincreasedtopped off with tyres and bicycle.Talking to our neighbour would not be an option as he has no where else to put the wood and could not dispose of it easily. What can we do?
JM - 14-May-18 @ 8:50 PM
My neighbours garden is overgrown with weeds, brambles, rubbish! I have spoken to them as they recently have had rats, now a family of Foxes Have moved into the garden resulting in them killing my pet rabbit. Environmental health are not interested in the problem. Advice needed urgently.
Lobby - 7-May-18 @ 10:33 PM
Vicky - Your Question:
Hi I been having a problem with my neighbours garden at the back oh our house. They haven't done to it anything it's just over growing mess. But one of these overgrowing messes moved right over the fence and onto our patio window, it is imposible from our side to access that part and we asked our neighbours nicely to remove the vines and bushes so our window won't break. As we don't want to move or have a broken window. They didn't listen to us and ignored our request on getting rid of the bush and vines. Which is why I need help, are there any laws I can tell them to go by in order to save my window ? Could you give me some advise of what can I do?

Our Response:
Can you not reach to simply cut the growth on your side (not to get rid of the plants entirely which you don't have a right to ask for). If you can't manage to cut the growth back on your side you could try the Access to if you can't get access to trim the plants as far as your boundary.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Apr-18 @ 10:50 AM
Hi I been having a problem with my neighbours garden at the back oh our house. They haven't done to it anything it's just over growing mess. But one of these overgrowing messes moved right over the fence and onto our patio window, it is imposible from our side to access that part and we asked our neighbours nicely to remove the vines and bushes so our window won't break. As we don't want to move or have a broken window. They didn't listen to us and ignored our request on getting rid of the bush and vines. Which is why I need help, are there any laws I can tell them to go by in order to save my window ? Could you give me some advise of what can I do?
Vicky - 23-Apr-18 @ 8:14 AM
We have our drive to the left of our house as you face it and our neighbour to the right.Our neighbour to the right have there garden to the side of our house beyond what is there driveway but they are going to convert there driveway to extra garden space which will come right up to the side wall of our house. I am concerned about excess noise and the using our wall to attach things such as lights etc. The drive way is what I feel gives us a true detached element and now we are losing that, is there anything I can do to stop this?The house is 15 years old.
TangoNotts - 14-Apr-18 @ 11:53 AM
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