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Rules on Hedges & Roots Growing into your Property

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 5 May 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Hedge Rights Maintenance

A hedge is often preferred to a fence when being used to separate the boundary between two adjoining properties. It can be more aesthetically pleasing and add character to a property, not to mention the fact that it provides both shelter and food to a vast number of wildlife species. So, that’s the good news. What’s the bad?

Hedges can sometimes cause disputes between neighbours when they become unkempt, when the roots start to spread, or if the hedge becomes too high and begins to affects the amount of sunlight reaching a neighbour's property. There are numerous legal rights, obligations and restrictions when it comes to hedges which are outlined below.

Your Rights

You do not usually need to obtain permission to plant a hedge in your garden if it is solely within your property’s boundary. However, you do need to obtain permission from your next door neighbour if you’re considering planting a hedge to separate the adjoining properties right on the boundary line. Provided there are no Boundary Disputes, and if both parties agree to the hedge, you will usually both be responsible for the maintenance of the hedge on your own sides. You can cut the hedge right back to your neighbour’s boundary, although there are some exceptions to this. (See ‘Restrictions’ below).

What are the Restrictions?

If you reside in a particular conservation area or any trees which form part of the hedge are under a tree preservation order, you may need to obtain permission from your local authority to cut back or remove a hedge. Some properties have Legal Covenants which state both the size and the height you can grow a hedge, and any further information will usually be contained in your property deeds. It’s also against the law to trim back or remove any hedges in which birds may be nesting. You should inspect the hedge first before going ahead with any pruning. If you’re still uncertain about this, the best bet is not to cut back a hedge between March and September, just in case.

Your Obligations

Sometimes a hedge can become overgrown and overhang the pavement outside your property. In this instance, your local authority can force you to cut it back or even to remove, it if it’s causing a danger or obstruction to pedestrians on the pavement.

Up until a few years ago, there was no legal restriction on how high you could grow a hedge but that changed in 2005. If you cannot come to an agreement on the hedge, you need to submit a complaint to your local authority with the reasons why you want a restriction placed on the height of a neighbour’s hedge. There is normally a charge to have this matter investigated which is usually about £350, although fees can vary between local authorities. See our guide Unhappy with a Neighbour's Hedge here"

More often than not, no matter who owns the hedge, most neighbours of adjoining properties will simply maintain their side of the hedge. However, it is important to understand the legal position on hedges just in case any disputes arise.

What to read next...

If it's not hedges but trees growing into your garden, read our article on Your Rights on Trees and Overhanging Branches.

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I live in a council bungalow and my neighbour on my left (I have access through her garden to back gate) keeps leaning over the fence to cut the upper side and recently part of the top of my hedge, which is next to an 8ft by 8ft wall attached to both properties. She has a 6ft fence panel her side, plus the original 4ft wire fence is inbetween both fence and hedge. I have explained the law regarding this countless times, that she can only cut what grows over her fence.Also not to lean over or the top.I cut it to 8 - 9ft and neatly round the end and trim the inside as best as I can.I wait until after nesting season and leave berries on my side and top during the winter. Part of the hedge is a Snowberry the rest is privet. I am sick of explaining nicely to her to please not cut beyond her fence.But yet again one of her grown up children has and messed it up!I am considering if possible,to slide a7ft - 8ft fence panel between the wire fence and my hedge and hoping that the hedge itself would support it, plus bricks at the bottom.Or any other ideas, anybody, please? Looking forward to your replies and suggestions.
Sallyjane - 5-May-19 @ 10:38 AM
Our neighbours hedge is planted right on the boundary line, so the default position means any growth is immediately encroaching. The boundary line is our neighbours side wall projecting front and back. This line is subject to a tomlin order after we successfully issued legal action as they refused to accept the legal boundary as defined by the land registry, the developers, independant surveyors etc. Having trimmed our side for many years, they recently harrassed me by pointing out where the boundary line is as i was trimming the hedge, they didn't even check first as the hedge branches are right on the line and i was only cutting the spreading leaves. I have now erected a fence just short of the line so in effect passing the problem of maintaining their hedge onto them. The only way he can trim this hedge now is from my side if i remove the fence panels. If he asks me do i have to allow him access?. My belief inplanting the hedge on the boundary line itself and not leaving room for growth he has exacerbated this problem and i dont want any thing to do with his hedge. It is his problem. Am i correct? Also his rear garden wall encroaches by several inches, this was built when we all first moved in and he told me the boundary line was the roof eaves. We found out later this was mistaken, we could have enforced the tomlin order on the rear wall. Now he is causing trouble again can we enforce this order and make him realign his wall, or is their a time limit which prevents this action?. Thank you
The kid - 29-Apr-19 @ 10:44 PM
my Neighbour has decided tocut my 6 foot hedge right down to the root and put a fence-up about a foot away from where the hedge was. The hedge actually separated the two gardens so theoretically I’ve been left with know back to my garden now. I’m a council tenant and at the time they were but they have justrecently bought there property.At first the council hadn’t really got a clue what do apart from mess me about,I’ve been very persistence and they have now got the legal team involved which I’m still waiting to hear of them,apparently it’s a long drawn out process in the mean time they have been lifting panels up to get there kids ball when ever it’s gone over the fence ( when I’m out ) I feel so angry I’ve now contacted cab due to how long I’ve got to wait for all this to be resolved... The police have been called and told me to keep a dairy of everything that’s happing... Surely they can’t get away with this ? No permission of me to do this or with the council Left my garden open access Left the root still in as I believe it’s got to go about 3 foot down to get them out That’s why I think it was left ( ridiculous) I hope to get some advise on this thanks.
Icecream - 27-Apr-19 @ 5:35 PM
I live on housing development which was built in 60s on a long plot of land which has a hawthorn hedge as the boundary to an existing house and land which occupied the ground since early 1900s. The land Development was built on was a similar house and plot originally and was then carved up with the 60s development. The hawthorn hedge remained as a boundary to the new properties on the developed land and the adjoining original. Part of the land beyond the hedge has now been sold, the purchaser has planning permission to build houses, and the first thing the builder has done is tear down the boundary hedge and construct a fence. Where would i find details on ownership of the hedge and if ownership is not defined, is the builder liable for damages.
Ccpict - 5-Mar-19 @ 10:35 AM
We fell out with our neighbors months after agreeing on the species for a hedge. I decided to plant the hedge myself so it could start growing. I planted the hedge about 12 inched inside our land. The neighbor went berserk saying we had no right to plant it. This was not the reaction I expected I thought she would be pleased. She cut one down so I called the police and the promised the police they'd replace it. But told us they had no intention as they did not want the hedge. We took out an AVPO and at mediation after 6 hours without a break they reluctantly agreed to the species but wanted control of the height. Out of sheer exhaustion we agreed. But next day at 9am I called the CJC and made them cancel our agreement. I was advised the agreement was not legally binding so I didn't need to worry. Because of all the activation caused by these neighbours and as the hedge was inside our land, I carefully removed the hedge and planted it on the opppsite boundary where we have no neighbours. Next thing we know we're ordered to attend a tribunal and have been ordered to put the hedge back! The member hauled us over the coals and said the CJC was wrong.
Lynny - 25-Nov-18 @ 9:25 AM
Hi. I've a boundary hedge which was planted on my side. Literally most of the hedge is on my property apart from a tiny bit which is over grown onto there side. I'm wanting to pull it out and replace it with a fence. Am I able to do this with the hedge actually been on my property?
Cath86 - 22-Oct-18 @ 2:12 PM
I forgot to say we cut the hedge ourselves twice a year to keep it trim
Conwy - 10-Oct-18 @ 1:59 PM
Hi we've got a conifer hedge between us as neighbours the hedge roots are planted on our land and not the boundary. The hedge has been here years before we moved in and we've been here 11 years the new neighbours about 5 years, we have constantly asked him not to cut our side he even lets the hedge trimmer come down about of our hedge too.He will only stop cutting it if my husband is home and is in the garden to askt him again not to cut our side .I don't know what rights we have and where to go from here.Any help and advice would be great. Thank you
Conwy - 10-Oct-18 @ 1:57 PM
We have maintained a hedge between our neighbour & us for 32 years she is now saying it is on her property & not on the boundary line & she is going to have it removed & a fence erected but the fence will come further into our garden. Can she do this?
Hall - 21-Sep-18 @ 4:49 PM
Dear Josy. I also have a right of access down a privately owned lane so I can tell you what has happened here. Another neighbour who is a police man and has a right of way informed the land owner that his speed bump (which was above normal height and scrapping the bottom of his car) was causing criminal damage to his property (his car). I would guess the same applies to overgrown hedges etc. The speed bump by the way was promptly removed. I imagine said police man neighbour had looked into his rights first. Hope this helps.
Jay - 27-Aug-18 @ 7:15 PM
Hi,My neighbour owns a hedge which defines our boundary.However they seem to think it is good practice to lean concrete slabs against the hedge causing the hedge to lean into my garden and also put stress on the hedge itself.I asked them 10 weeks ago if they could remove the slabs and they have done nothing other than lean more things against the hedge.What could i do please.
chippy - 14-Aug-18 @ 5:13 PM
We have recently approached our neighbour regarding our dilapidated fence which has been damaged due to his conifer trees pushing against the structure and natural wear over time. After some lengthily communication, in writing,we agreed that the fence bordering our properties was equally our responsibility and have now replaced the dividing fence. As part of the agreement he gave written confirmation that he would reduce the height of the conifers to a mutually agreed level. He then proceeded to cut the trees with what equates to a pair of scissors and soon became disenchanted and gave up saying that he could not cut the trees back any further. H e was soon reminded of his earlier commitment and replied by saying he didn't actually state to what level he would reduce the height. It is worth explaining at this point that the trees in question sit on a boundary between his property, my property and another property to his rear. Neither I or the other neighbour at the rear have benefitedfrom his attempt to reduce the height which has been brought to his attention. His reply is simply that he does not have any obligation to attend to his trees as advised by the local Council. The facts are that the trees are about 25 feet high and access to trim the overgrowth is difficult and dangerous. This has been the basis of our concerns for the future as the task of maintaining the trees is only likely to be more difficult as they grow out of hand. Under the High Edges Act 2011 there could be an obligation for our neighbour to reduce the height of his trees although this does seem a grey area. My concern is not so much the loss of light , which is a factor as the tree grows in height and width, but the ongoing maintenance.t has become more and more difficult the trim our sides with no where to support a ladder. Is there any obligation on his part, litigation I could pursue and any other long term resolution?
Maximuss - 7-Aug-18 @ 9:07 PM
Hi, I am a disabled ladies registered carer. Everything I do for her and her children is done on a voluntary basis. The Lady moved to the village 5 years ago. She lives in a row of twelve houses. Her back garden adjoins a farmers field. At the back of every house/side of the field there are grass cuttings, bricks and other rubbish. These have been there for years and lay underneath nettles, brambles, weeds etc...This week every house received a pretty stern `unless rubbish is removed within seven days legal action will follow` letter. I rang the farmer (A huge national business) and was told that it didnt matter when the Lady moved in, the rubbish is there now and so it is her responsibility. (The Lady is a council tenant) I live about 3 miles from the lady, there is approximately an 8 yard skip of bricks, concrete and corrugated iron sheets at the rear of her home in the field. Theres no way I could even attempt to move it all within 7 days as I am not even home this coming weekend and I work weekdays. The lady is very worried and distressed by these threats as she struggles financially. Could anybody please offer sound legal advice? The Lady didnt and couldnt physically deposit the rubbish (its not rubbish as such, its more building waste bricks etc...) it was there when she moved there five years ago and this is the first time anything has been said. If I could move it I would to prevent her worrying but I simply cannot in their time scale. Thank you in advance for helping by giving advice. Patrick
Disabled persons car - 26-Jul-18 @ 6:58 PM
I have a building plot some weeds are growing through the fence on to my neighbors property he says they have damaged is fence He recently asked if he could cut them back and was granted permission but he didn't bother who's is responsible
Mat - 24-Jul-18 @ 7:01 AM
Rules on high hedges just get swept under the carpet with the council. Clearly states on websites that if a hedge is preventing light from garden and house then council should take action. But if you council tenant and house bought next door and hedge on boundery line the council say nothing we can do.
Stephen - 23-Jul-18 @ 8:04 PM
We have a 20m privet hedge at the bottom of our garden which we keep to roughly 2m in height to allow our son to play football without kicking the ball over all the time. There is a private lane the other side which leads to a house. The person who owns the house has employed someone to use an industrial hedge cutter to take about half a meter off the top, while we were at work. It now looks a total eyesore. We kept it neat and trimmed and looking healthy but now it looks a total mess.Is she allowed to do this without consulting us first? The hedge was there before the lane.
Hedge angry - 16-Jul-18 @ 6:41 PM
We live in a row of 4 terrace houses which has a service road running around the back of them.Although we all have access rights, the parts of the access road at each side belong to the 1st and 4th neighbour.Neighbour 4 maintains the hedges down his side of the road and there are no plants.Unfortunately neighbour 1 does not and has verbally declined to cut the plants and hedges which are increasingly growing into the road.These plants and hedges scratch the sides of our vehicles.We were allowed to trim them once, but now he refuses that option as well.Is the next step legal action?
Jossy - 16-Jul-18 @ 1:11 PM
Our neighbours weeping willow is hanging over our garden making the patch unusable. Tree is just in a conservation area but has no preservation order on it. We have spoken to the owner but he does not want to know. It has already caused our extension to subside forcing us to have the extension rebuilt. Can you advise us please.
Sandy - 10-Jul-18 @ 3:23 PM
I just witnessed my next door neighbour climb on the outhouse roof over to my side to cut bushes in my garden and then throw it in my garden, I know it is over grown but should he not ask permission to do that or ask me to cut it back myself, he is always cutting my bushes in the front garden because they hang over my side of the pathway
Bleed - 6-Jul-18 @ 11:08 AM
Sammy - Your Question:
My neighbour is a nightmare for complaining and now has two things causing me problems1/ over hanging bush in our rear garden in their side of boundary but overgrown in height and overnight hanging our garden2/ a building detached from the house with window on our boundary. It’s bright yellow and had windows on my side. It’s been there over 19 years that I have lived here but I would like to cover it with a fence or something.Can I do this and cut back the bush ?

Our Response:
You can cut back any branches that over hang your side of the boundary. You can't attach anything to your neighbour's outbuilding but you can erect a freestanding structure such as a fence/trellis on your own property. There are maximum heights for many garden structures constructed within 2 metres of a boundary so you will need to make yourself aware of these.
ProblemNeighbours - 5-Jul-18 @ 11:27 AM
My neighbour is a nightmare for complaining and now has two things causing me problems 1/ over hanging bush in our rear garden in their side of boundary but overgrown in height and overnight hanging our garden 2/ a building detached from the house with window on our boundary. It’s bright yellow and had windows on my side. It’s been there over 19 years that I have lived here but I would like to cover it with a fence or something. Can I do this and cut back the bush ?
Sammy - 1-Jul-18 @ 5:52 PM
Steph - Your Question:
Need to know about cutting edge that are in my garden but are my next door neighbor where do I put the cutting if someone could please let me know thanks.S Allen

Our Response:
You can trim the hedge back as far as the boundary as long as this doesn't damage the hedge. You can offer the cuttings back to your neighbour but they don't have to accept them, in which case you should dispose of them yourself.
ProblemNeighbours - 22-Jun-18 @ 12:08 PM
Need to know about cutting edge that are in my garden but are my next door neighbor where do I put the cutting if someone could please let me know thanks .S Allen
Steph - 21-Jun-18 @ 11:24 AM
We have a field the back of our garden which is really over grown (Grass and weeds are about 5ft high) we dont have any fencing at the back as its on a steep bank... Who's responsibility is it to maintain it? The field is owned by a farmer who i dont know.
Horsefan - 19-Jun-18 @ 8:20 PM
Notahappycamper - Your Question:
Our neighbours owned the hedge dividing our rear gardens and wanted our consent to trim and remove any hazardous trees. They proceeded to remove all lower branches and clear hedge but left tops of trees completely exposing our previously private garden.We complained to them that we were not happy with the work, they stated that they would be putting up a fence.10 months later and no fence, they have erected a sun terrace at the top of their garden which looks directly into the usable area of our garden and into our kitchen.When asked when the fence is going up the neighbours have replied that they are not putting one up. Where do we stand?

Our Response:
A property owner is not legally obliged to fence in his/her own property. There is nothing to prevent you from erecting your own fence if you so choose.
ProblemNeighbours - 15-Jun-18 @ 3:17 PM
Our neighbours owned the hedge dividing our rear gardens and wanted our consent to trim and remove any hazardous trees. They proceeded to remove all lower branches and clear hedge but left tops of trees completely exposing our previously private garden. We complained to them that we were not happy with the work, they stated that they would be putting up a fence. 10 months later and no fence, they have erected a sun terrace at the top of their garden which looks directly into the usable area of our garden and into our kitchen. When asked when the fence is going up the neighbours have replied that they are not putting one up. Where do we stand?
Notahappycamper - 15-Jun-18 @ 10:50 AM
We have a privet hedge boundary, our hedge which I planted 20 years ago on our side of the boundary line.The neighbour at the time was fine with this, unfortunately several owners later, the current neighbour persists in cutting the hedge back to the bare stems on their side and taking gouges out of the top, even through the bird nesting season ?? we have now written to them asking them to refrain from touching it, but if they don’t what is the next step?
Lincolnshire Lass - 13-Jun-18 @ 5:00 PM
Hello, we live on a small cup-de-sac on a corner plot with no direct next door neighbour. The access road to the cup-de-sac runs adjacent to our house. Across the road are a row of houses looking onto the side of our house and garden. At the side of our house, closest the road, is our fence, the other side of the fence (road side) is our hedge which i have to cut and maintain. My front lawn then continues from the front of the house and traverses the hedge. The lawn is 2 feet wide and is next to the pavement. My question is can i remove the hedge and put a new fence in where the current hedge is, leaving the same amount of lawn closest the pavement? Thanks
Muffyyy - 12-Jun-18 @ 9:54 PM
Hi, it is Sunday,I live in a housing association but was a city council tenant before the housing association took over it. I have lived in my property 21 years and thinking of buying. New neighbours who haven't been here a year yet are as I type removing half of the front garden henge that has been there 50 years. It is kept tidy. . This leaves my side of the garden open to the public walking by now has made me feel vulnerable due to being disabled and living alone. Had no discussion with neighbours they don't own rent..being a Sunday I can't call anyone official to find out if I can stop them. Not only have they left my front garden open now removing there half of hedge it will affect local birds that use it. My cat is a little shy and worried dogs may wonder in and rubbish. .kids already misbehave around here can see them running around it now. Do you think my new neighbours have been unfair and what can I do not a happy bunny.
Tessa - 10-Jun-18 @ 11:45 AM
An old-established privet hedge(mine) forms the boundary between me and one of my neighbours.My neighbour believes that this is encroaching into his garden by approximately 18". Instead of cutting it back,I recently noticed that he has dug a deep trench, exposing the roots, so that the hedge is dying.My family has lived in the house for over 70 years with no problems. I do not want to become involved in a bitter or costly dispute, any advice, please?
phoebe - 7-Jun-18 @ 3:55 PM
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