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Rules on Hedges & Roots Growing into your Property

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 14 Jan 2021 | 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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We have an existing yew hedge (approx 30years old) that separates our boundary and the farmers field. Last year he planted a mixed native hedge with whips approx 1.2m off of our hedge. Our main concerns are that this new hedge will grow to 2.5m high, impede the growth/sunlight and who's going to maintain our side of the new hedge as the farmer can't with the tractor and flail. He agreed on email that he would remove it and now he has said he isn't going to remove it. main concern is that it will damage our hedge. Where do we stand with this?
Bins - 14-Jan-21 @ 5:21 PM
At the side of our property is an access lane to a farm field. The field is leased to a farmer.The owners of the land cut the hedges once a year with a tractor and cutter. This leaves debris all over our garden and drive. Do the landowners have a legal responsibility to clear the debris as it is quite a lot and quite thorny. When we have been at home when the hedges have been cut we have moved our cars off the drive to prevent any damage. Do the landowners not have a responsibility to inform us when they are undertaking such work?
Quackers - 23-Nov-20 @ 4:17 PM
I have a hedge at the bottom of my garden that backs on to a farmers field. There is a covenant that contains a clause in respect of my obligations to erect and maintain a fence between my land and the field. The farmer is saying that there is a clause with the Land Registry documentation stating that I must erect and maintain a stock proof fence - although I haven't seen this clause. Is a hedge a type of fence? Is there a case where this has been defined? The farmer is now saying that the fence must be suitable for his needs and it is my responsibility to build fencing.
Mark - 16-Nov-20 @ 3:02 PM
We have two issues: Issue 1 neighbour 1:We have a joint 4m heigh 3m wide hedge.The neighbour does not want it lowering, we are really struggling todeal with it.We reduced the width on our side, but our neighbour's gardener just cuts to the new middle opposed to the centre of the hedging trunks.We cannot get anyone to cut for us and it is simply dangerous.It is a Beech hedge and as it is semi evergreen the council will not help as they only help with evergreen hedges.They also refuse to cover any costs to reduce height and have been verbally abusive when approached. Two of these hedging trees were let grow to full size trees, these are also joint, they block light to several gardens.Five years ago before we moved in three neighbours clubbed together to get them trimmed (including the previous owner of our house).Neighbour 1 refused to pay anything and contested.The canopy is now recovering and we lose lots of light from our garden and so do our neighbours.When approached our neighbours were again abusive as they had been to other neighbours who had approached them.Neighbour 1 said we can cut one of the trees (they see joint ownership as one tree is ours and one is theirs).This seems rather silly, but it is what they believe. Neighbour 2:Is literally trying to kill us.Our drive goes straight onto a main road.they grew a hedge at the front of their house and we can no longer see oncoming traffic at all until the whole of the car is on the road.There is nowhere to put a mirror that is not on the public highway and the council has a mirrors policy that forbids the use of mirrors on the public highway due to public liability issues.They have said they will review if there is an accident.I have been to my MP and we have had many discussions with our neighbours but they refuse to do anything.They keep the hedge within their boundary.We have had many, many near misses.When we use our village roads to park on we get notes left and one of our cars has been vandalised.We are literally going to die.We have told the council that if their is an accident we sue them under contributory negligence grounds as they could have done something to help.
Swannies100 - 15-Nov-20 @ 7:35 AM
When we bought our house the previous owner had a lot of bushes connected to the fence so it was falling down. We put up a new fence and spoke to the lady behind us about the fact that plants don’t belong on fences and she agreed. She paid for half of the neighbor friendly fence. Then nailed a bunch of vining plants to all panels of the fence! I can’t get her to keep them on her side either. They are all over my trees, yard, deck everywhere! What can I do she should have to pay to clean it up! Throwing the stuff back over the fence doesn’t work.
Sue - 23-Oct-20 @ 12:46 AM
Before we bought this house out neighbour effected a fence onnthe bank between us within their boundary, this only came to light when we started planting a hedge in front of it. They are about a storey higher than us. They agreed to the hedge providing we kept it trimmed to the fence line. Neither the hedge, nor the fence follow the original boundary. Some of our hedge could be considered to be witgin6their property. However, they have recently replaced all the fence panels, so I feel that they have relinquished the land rights to a degree . Do you agree? My other concern is that despite knowing we have a hedge next to the fence line, they have just slabbed/paved the footpath running along side their side of the fence. If our roots (now 5yrs)start causing an issue to the paving, where do we stand?
Lou - 17-Oct-20 @ 8:23 AM
my neighbour planted a hedge right on the boundary line of our properties without any consent i personally do not want another hedge to trim, i believe there was a hedge law passed to avoid this and you refer to it in your article, can you please tell me where i can find this law ?
cd - 13-Oct-20 @ 1:00 PM
I own a lane that me neighbour has access to use to get to his home. They own a thorn hedge that runs part way along the side of my lane. They do cut the hedge but gradually it is getting wider narrowing the lane restricting larger vehicles. I have mentioned cutting back but to date they have not wanted to do this. Can I cut the hedge back ?
Nutty - 4-Oct-20 @ 5:03 PM
we have a garden home.The long side of the home has the neighbors grass growing.This is not a problem. He dug deep into our foundation side and planted large plants/scrubs up against our home.I am concerned that over time they will push into our foundation and the water seeping into the concrete.Any answers for this problem.They are pretty hateful neighbors and we TRY not to bother them. Been here 16 years and all was well til they moved in.
easy - 25-Sep-20 @ 6:22 AM
If a landlord has ivy growing from his land onto a neighbour’s wall and into their gutters then it must be his responsibility to remove it, The tenant of a domestic property is not responsible for trimming or removing it. Teedoff
Teedoff - 12-Sep-20 @ 4:09 AM
I own a huge ancient boundary fence, and spent a lot ot time and money having planks replaced with Douglas Fir some fifteen years ago. Four years ago I had to ask my gardener to keep cutting ivy appearing over the top on three eight foot wide sections. One year he reported that the neighbour had told him not to cut it as she was waiting for the wild blackberries in it! They sold last year, but she refused to cut the ivy at its roots before leaving when I politely requested this. The new neighbours are very helpful and are allowing my gardener to go in and removethe ivy where possible butit has already destroyed the planks their side and looks dreadful for them. Can I sue the previous owner for the cost of replacing the ruined planks In the small claims court?
Teedoff - 12-Sep-20 @ 3:57 AM
I own a huge ancient boundary fence, and spent a lot ot time and money having planks replaced with Douglas Fir some fifteen years ago. Four years ago I had to ask my gardener to keep cutting ivy appearing over the top on three eight foot wide sections. One year he reported that the neighbour had told him not to cut it as she was waiting for the wild blackberries in it! They sold last year, but refused to cut the ivy at its roots before leaving when I politely requested this. The new neighbours are very helpful and are allowing my gardener to go in and removethe ivy where possible butit has already destroyed the planks their side and looks dreadful for them. Can I sue the previous owner for the cost of replacing the ruined planks In the small claims court?
Teedoff - 12-Sep-20 @ 3:49 AM
Hi there, I own an end of terrace property and my garage is built at the back of the property, and it’s walls according to my deeds, and Barrats maps are the boundary wall with the mid terraced property. The owners of the mid terraced properties have now gone and built and open shed against my garage wall, as well as some tall plant beds using train sleepers, they have also attached on my garage walls 3 plant runners. Sadly they have never ever had the courtesy to share this with me, or even earn me about using the garage wall. Do I have any rights to oppose this as my main concern is that they built the plant beds above my garage damp course, almost 90 CMS higher, and I fear there will be a lot of damp coming through in the future. I can share some photos here. Kindly let me know if you have any advise for us. Thanks again.
Deedsrule - 7-Sep-20 @ 7:20 PM
My neighbour says he owns the hedge on our boundary and it is in his garden, however, he is insisting I cut the half that is in our garden. Do we have to do this? We live in Scotland
FMC - 4-Sep-20 @ 4:12 PM
How close to my established but regularly clipped Thuja Plicatta (Western Red Cedar) hedged trees can my new neighbour erect a closedboard wooden fence , probably over six feet tall . The fence deprives the growing trees of light and the posts will have damaged roots. They are not subject to a TPO.
Thuja123Plicatta - 23-Aug-20 @ 11:27 AM
A laurel hedge separates the back of our garden from neighbours in an adjoining street. They are new neighbours of about 2 years. There are old posts on either side of our garden indicating an original fence line. These are now covered by this laurel, which is also riddled with bramble. It stems from behind their garage and is left uncontrolled. It has encroached into our garden to the point of wrecking an ornamental fence and pushing against our patio. We would like to remove the laurel from our side and reinstate the original fence line. They are vehemently opposed to this. The properties were built in 1933 so the boundaries are not as clear as more modern properties. I would appreciate any advice. Thank you so much
Debs - 9-Aug-20 @ 8:10 AM
behind my garden is a college field and their brambles are growing through and over my fence. it is damaging my fence and they’re not taking any responsibility for maintaini got the brambles. they have suggested i put up a new fence and cut the bramble. who is responsible for cutting the brambles and paying for my damaged fence? can i challenge them?
Zee - 9-Jul-20 @ 5:38 PM
We need a new fence between us and next door down the left hand side at the bottomthere is a Hawthornehedge the neigbour is insisting we take it out there is nesting birds and other wildlife in there.The fence could start at the hedge it would look ok but they want it removed we don't.
Nelly - 5-Jul-20 @ 6:16 PM
Mrs neighbour planted a hedge including young trees along his side of the front garden, this has now grown quite tall and has damaged one side of my paved drive way making the paving raise up and loosen the paving.Not sure what to do about. The neighbour has been quite threatening in the past.
RR - 7-Jun-20 @ 11:09 PM
My neighbour has a Virginia creeper growing up our fence and it has come under and is strangling our plants. She used to send her gardener to help remove it but she sadly passed away in March and so it’s growing voraciously! She had no relatives so no-one will be near the house for the foreseeable future. What can we do please?
Sandra - 7-Jun-20 @ 7:16 PM
My neighbour has errected a fence on there property. She has left us with the rough side of the fence and her conifers are now on our side. They are turning brown and look to be dying. Should she not of removed the conifers or put the fence up with the conifers on her property.
Dave - 2-Jun-20 @ 9:37 PM
We have neighbors who planted hedges between their yard and our next door neighbor's--he lives in between us. We used to be able to have a nice view of the local church and the mountain behind it, but now their hedges are growing so high that they're obstructing our view.Can they let the hedges grow as high as possible or do they have to trim to within a certain height?
Jeany - 25-May-20 @ 6:46 PM
On my boundary fence the other side is a different estate the close had a pathway which drops lower than my garden There is a shrub which had been planted by a person over the fence which had grown and spread now against my fence . I now have to replace a panel .and the branches are stopping us getting out the panel as we will not be able to.slide panel out .I have sent a note saying I will require shrub being cut back to enable the replacement panel to be placed .how do Istand please
None - 17-May-20 @ 8:13 PM
When my next door neighbour moved in he planted a privet hedge on the border of his front garden and my path without asking my permission, he also planted on the border of his garden and the pavement (without getting planning permission), in addition he filled the remaining space in the garden with shrubs some of which are now over 4 metres high. Despite numerous requests that he trim his shrubs down to the legal 2 metres and trim his hedge from over my path, he refuses to do anything, what should be my next course of action?
JDogg - 28-Apr-20 @ 10:48 PM
I've lived at a property for 20 years and have never had an issue with my neighbours until recently. The house next door now has a new owner and a leylandii hedge that separates his garden and my rear driveway has now become a point of contention. Ideally I would like to cut back the hedge up to the boundary marker (a steel point that has been in the ground for some years) and erect a wooden fence on my land. My neighbour objects on two grounds (1) the cutting back of the hedge would turn it brown and may kill off the hedge (I won't see the colour as it would be hidden, but would be concerned if I subsequently get sued for criminal damage) and (2) he claims that as the hedge line has for some years grown beyond the original marker there is now a new boundary! I'd love some advice.
pete - 21-Apr-20 @ 9:44 AM
During storms our neighbours fence panels blew down,they removed the posts and panels, I assumed to put up new ones. They decided to put in a bare root hedge,on the boundary line, hard up against the gravel boards we had installed to protect their panels( there is a difference in ground levels ours being slightly higher. When I said to them that they would need to put a fence up they got very aggressive and that the hedge is a fence. They told me I should put up a fence.Their deeds stipulate they must maintain a fence there is no dispute where the boundary line is,however with time the hedge will encroach on our property. What course of action can I take
Sophie - 18-Apr-20 @ 6:45 PM
The new owner of the house next door completely removed the hedge dividing our properties without any discussion .We have looked after this hedge for 35 years and believed it was a boundary hedge. The new owner now claims it was entirely on his land. If this turns out to be true is there nothing that can be done?
M - 17-Feb-20 @ 2:01 PM
What is the distance between my neighbour's tree and my fence supposed to be. His tree is ruining my fence.
Sammy - 15-Jan-20 @ 4:07 PM
I rent out my property. My neighbours vine has grown over fence and tenant let it grow through closed upvc windows of conservatory and break through join between house and conservatory wall. The tenant say it’s not there fault and they don’t have to pay for damage as plant came from next door. Is this correct please..
Rach - 11-Jan-20 @ 6:38 PM
I have a boundary hedge and I’m wanting to cut back on my side and then erect a fence on my lane is this doable?
Mary - 4-Dec-19 @ 1:02 PM
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