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Rules on Hedges & Roots Growing into your Property

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 17 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Hedge Rights Hedge Obligations Hedge

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"

Just as with trees, if a hedge borders your property but is solely owned by your neighbour, it is their duty to maintain it even on your side. However, if you come to an agreement whereby you wish to maintain your side, if you trim back any part of the hedge, you should ask your neighbour what he wants you to do with the clippings. If it’s his hedge, you have every right to ask him to dispose of the clippings, although most people will just simply do that themselves. Where roots are establishing themselves on your side of the hedge, you have the right to dig them out but, again, you must ask your neighbour what he wants doing with them.

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 are semi detached and live in a col-d-sac. There is a lane that passes through the back of each house which is accessible through my back garden gate. I use this lane every morning to walk my son to school. In recent weeks I have had to walk the lane with a pair of shears chipping back hedges and bushes in order for us to continue using the lane. I'm rather tired of doing this and was wondering whose responsibility it is to keep the lane neat and tidy! Would I complain to the council? I have bought my house that backs onto the lane therefore feel it's my responsibility to ensure my part of the lane is kept tidy. However there are some residents that rent via the council or privately. Can you help?
Kate - 17-Jun-17 @ 9:04 AM
Emmz - Your Question:
HiWe have a hedge Border in our back garden one has agreed for removal and for us to put a fence up the other has been very awkward as they like greenery. Awkward neighbours Sao we can cut hedge back to the boundary line (concrete posts in middle of hedge). Having cut back the majority of the hedge the roots are on our boundary a small section of hedge near the house wall is completely on our boundary so we have removed the section (about a metre and a half). In same section there is a fence and additonal bushes on next doors garden. Having checked with our solicitor the hedge is jointly responsible known as a party hedge. Today our neighbours have complained and said they are not happy as l we've removed a section and they are going to legal I've tried to explain that the part they are referring to is completely on our side and that we have tried our best to accomodate leaving there side of the hedge in by leaving roots in on our own boundary to ensure some hedge is left for them meaning we will effectively loose a good foot of our garden once the fence is erected. Just wondering where I stand legally as I feel I've been extremely reasonable and actually think I should be able to remove all roots that are on my boundary. Any advice much appreciated thank you

Our Response:
If it is indeed a party hedge, then you and your neighbour share responsibility for its maintenance and you must both agree before any parts are removed etc. You will need to get this resolved using a mediation services or a solicitor.
ProblemNeighbours - 16-Jun-17 @ 11:12 AM
We live next to farming fields and hawthorn trees separate us.Every year the farmer assures us that they will get contractors in to trim the top of the hedge but every year they plough the field ready for new crops and then say that they can't trim the hedge,the hedge has now reached ten foot and whilst we nsintain our side and trim the top as best we can, it's got to the stage where drastic measures are needed.I've started cutting down the hedge yo about 5ft and have advised the farmer that I am doing thus as the hedge was having negative effects on our garden.I've enquired about the price of a skip to take the dead branches away but can't justify the price.I've asked the farmer if he can provide a trailer to remove debris but they claim to be too busy.Our location is rural and in the past we have wheelbarrowed debris to an area where other debrus has been placed to be burnt but though a third party we were asked not to continue.We are talking about a large area needing to be cleared about 150ft of hedging so it's a little of debris. We are doing the hard work, which would take the farmers minutes with their implements.We have never expected them tomaintain our side of the hedge.
Tlm67 - 16-Jun-17 @ 10:33 AM
When out to day and returned to find my hedge half the size of what it was on one side
Zaw - 16-Jun-17 @ 1:40 AM
Hi We have a hedge Border in our back garden one has agreed for removal and for us to put a fence up the other has been very awkward as they like greenery.Awkward neighbours Sao we can cut hedge back to the boundary line (concrete posts in middle of hedge). Having cut back the majority of the hedge the roots are on our boundary a small section of hedge near the house wall is completely on our boundary so we have removed the section (about a metre and a half). In same section there is a fence and additonal bushes on next doors garden.Having checked with our solicitor the hedge is jointly responsible known as a party hedge.Today our neighbours have complained and said they are not happy as l we've removed a section and they are going to legal I've tried to explain that the part they are referring to is completely on our side and that we have tried our best to accomodate leaving there side of the hedge in by leaving roots in on our own boundary to ensure some hedge is left for them meaning we will effectively loose a good foot of our garden once the fence is erected. Just wondering where I stand legally as I feel I've been extremely reasonable and actually think I should be able to remove all roots that are on my boundary.Any advice much appreciated thank you
Emmz - 13-Jun-17 @ 5:32 PM
Moved in 30yr ago.Front garden is offset,terraced house,so everyone looks after the garden to the right of the path leading from front door to the road.There is a hedge on the neighbours to the left of our front door,never been a problem as previous 4 neighbors have trimmed hedge.New neighbors not trimming hedge,I know I can trim it but I don't want to .They know the hedge is theirs,or rather the landlords.I don't want the hedge as legally half of it is growing in my property.Where do I stand.
Billy - 6-Jun-17 @ 4:38 PM
My neighbour has a very beautiful, well kept, front garden consisting of different types of bushes. My problem is, when I get into my car on my driveway, which runs along our front boundaries, I can't see if any traffic is coming on the road (near a junction), or if there are any pedestrians on the footpath. The plants aren't particularly high, roughly to the height of my car roof, so I don't know if the 2m rule would apply. Some encroach my boundary but that's not the problem. My problem is visibility. Where do I stand?
KAT - 24-May-17 @ 11:05 PM
Hi some land on our boundary is not being maintained and it is dangerous for us to cut the hedge on the side of the neighbouring land. Is it possible to make the landowner clear the area so that we can cut the hedge safely
Sue - 5-May-17 @ 5:42 PM
I have just moved in to an old terraced house. We own the fence boundary to the right of the garden, and the family to my left own the boundary to the left of the garden. They have a lorrel hedge planted, but it looks like it was planted on the boundary, not their side. It is well established but has 1m wide gaps in it that I could walk through, so not safe, secure or private. I am going to put fence up along the back of the garden soon, and want to put fence along the left too, to enclose the space. The neighbour likes the lorrel - though from brick counting between the windows etc, it does look to be planted on my side - what can I do? There was an 'agreement' between the neighbour and the previous owner re the hedge. I would guess that no longer applies...
old house rules - 30-Apr-17 @ 7:37 PM
PhilK - Your Question:
I have an elderly friend whose home is adjacent to a school between which there is a boundary hedge (approx 100ft x 9ft high)with a small chain link fence in the middle.The school accepts responsibility for this hedge and has trimmed it (top and both sides) for the last 30 years.A new head and administrative staff are now refusing to carry out any future maintenance on my friends side.Where does she stand legally on this matter ?

Our Response:
There is no real responsibility on a hedge owner to maintain the hedge on the side that is not on their property.Can you write to the governors or to the Local Education Authority to appeal about this on behalf of the elderly owner? They may agree to continue as a gesture of good will.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:45 PM
I have an elderly friend whose home is adjacent to a school between which there is a boundary hedge (approx 100ft x 9ft high)with a small chain link fence in the middle.The school accepts responsibility for this hedge and has trimmed it (top and both sides) for the last 30 years.A new head and administrative staff are now refusing to carry out any future maintenance on my friends side.Where does she stand legally on this matter ?
PhilK - 6-Apr-17 @ 11:44 AM
Hi.Between my neighbour and I there is a hedge fence on my side and a wall brick fence on his side. This was already in place when I moved here 14 years ago. For what I've seen there are older boundaries visible ony side. The real strange thing is that my neighbour have always trim the top of the edges,even having a tall wall on his side. He getssteps and he bends over to reach out the green edge ( it is not save, no).Sometimes e puts a lader and comes down our side and our next-door neibour to paint the back of his fence even knowing is cover by the edges ( I understand it could be a OCD thing).I've never mind much,but this last two years I been at home and actually see him do it. He stands there looking at me and keeps the job like I'm Invisible.Last year I approached him and asked what was he doing on my neighbour and my propriety. After trying to ignore me and saying he didn't understand my pronunciation,he said the neibour give him permission.Well both neibours had passed away and I knowing the family felt I could question him. I tried to question the reasons he never approach us before,but apart from I being doing it for 40 year and I can see the edges from my Garden, nothing else came out of it. So I feel his been very intrusive and abuses my need of privacy.Could any one sheet some light about this Thank you
Cris - 13-Mar-17 @ 3:54 PM
Patb - Your Question:
A new neighbour has cut the leylandi hedge in our front garden which divides the property back to the trunks on his side which has resulted in large holes on our side. This hedge had been in place for 25 yrs and was maintained by us as it was planted by a previous owner of our property. He is also disputing the boundary. We have had a survey carried out and it appears that the trunks are on their side by a few inches. The boundary on this side is actually ours and says quite clearly on our deeds that we are responsible for this side. Can he legally remove the hedge and if he does is he responsible for replacing it with fence or will we have to fund the cost ourselves? He is very difficult and has physically attacked my partner resulting in police being called. Our garden is no longer private or secure for our pets and grandchildren. Will welcome your advice.

Our Response:
This is really difficult. Theoretically, the neighbour shouldn't have cut back the hedge because it doesn't belong to him and he has caused criminal damage to it. On the other hand if branches of the hedge of encroaching on his property he can cut them back as far as the boundary. It may be that you have to employ a property/boundary specialist to resolve this but if you can do so using a mediation service/alternative dispute resolution first, it might be easier.
ProblemNeighbours - 16-Feb-17 @ 12:36 PM
A new neighbour has cut theleylandi hedge in our front garden which divides the property back to the trunks on his side which has resulted in large holes on our side. This hedge had been in place for 25 yrs and was maintained by us as it was planted by a previous owner of our property. He is also disputing the boundary. We have had a survey carried out and it appears that the trunks are on their side by a few inches. The boundary on this side is actually ours and saysquite clearly on our deeds that we are responsible for this side. Can he legally remove the hedge and if he does is he responsible for replacing it with fence or will we have to fund the cost ourselves? He is very difficult and has physically attacked my partner resulting in police being called. Our garden is no longer private or secure for our pets and grandchildren. Will welcome your advice.
Patb - 15-Feb-17 @ 9:24 PM
My neighbour has stopped cutting his hedge as he has never ask me who's hedge it is, but on my deeds it's his hedge and recently he shouted from the road 'cut your hedge'towards my house. The hedge has so weighted on his side that its leaning over his drive and its removing soil under my drive. What needs to be done?
theboy - 1-Feb-17 @ 9:09 AM
My neighbours just fell out with me and says i can no longer cut the top of his hedge on my side after doing so for 8yrs
James - 15-Jan-17 @ 10:29 PM
Hi, we are in private rented house and we have a hedge at the side of us between us and next door, which our landlord says its his so we was allowed to take it up, but now next door are saying its theirs, how can we tell whos it is?
Bex - 30-Dec-16 @ 7:13 PM
New neighbours won't trim their boundary hedge between our houses. I have asked nicely when they're going to trim it.got a dirty look and that was It lol. It is twice the height of mine and looks unsightly as I cut my side regularly. It's a council property anything I can do?
Tan - 21-Dec-16 @ 8:24 PM
Hi. We have a service alley which runs along the back of our gardens to the end house. The corner house next to me is council and the other is private as the same as mine. I have a 6ft fence along the back and have a climber that has grown welland runs the top of the fence and onto the council house. It also.runs along the back of the brick shed and along the other private houses brick shed. Its great for security and hangs half way down the back of my fence. It looks like the council have turned up and cut the whole lot off leaving the fence clear and now my garden is visible through the trellis. Can the council just turn up and do this without my consent. Its my property after all and was not obstructing the alley in anyway.
mrbigsboy - 10-Dec-16 @ 4:25 PM
Unhappy in my own ga - Your Question:
We have a neighbour who's very mature hedge sits right on our boundary, wholly within their land but is around 20 - 30ft high. The council is unwilling to help through the high hedge act as they are spineless, and we are now at our wits end.We have tried to speak with her to at least halve the height of the hedge however she is adamant she will not touch it as it provides her with privacy to her whole house.We have been told that she holds a grudge with us from trimming the hedge wen we first moved in as it was overhanging our garden by about 8 ft.The grass can barely grow and we now have a moss covered rear garden and to add insult we have to have the lights on in the downstairs rear rooms almost permanently.Is there anything we can do - ASBO/Human Rights etc?

Our Response:
You could take a private action via the courts. A judge might be sympathetic on the basis of the High Hedges section of the Antisocial Behaviour Act. Was the council unwilling to help with the High Hedges procedure? Here is our guide which might help
ProblemNeighbours - 2-Dec-16 @ 12:25 PM
We have a neighbour who's very mature hedge sits right on our boundary, wholly within their land but is around 20 - 30ft high. The council is unwilling to help through the high hedge act as they are spineless, and we are now at our wits end. We have tried to speak with her to at least halve the height of the hedge however she is adamant she will not touch it as it provides her with privacy to her whole house. We have been told that she holds a grudge with us from trimming the hedge wen we first moved in as it was overhanging our garden by about 8 ft. The grass can barely grow and we now have a moss covered rear garden and to add insult we have to have the lights on in the downstairs rear rooms almost permanently. Is there anything we can do - ASBO/Human Rights etc?
Unhappy in my own ga - 1-Dec-16 @ 3:47 PM
I moved into a newly built housing association property over four years ago.My house and garden have a hedge running from front to back which has been there for many years and is part of a hedge running along the lane separating farmland from the lane. A farmer cuts the hedge regularly from his property and down the lane however the hedge along my property has not been cut since I first moved in and is 8-10 feet tall in places and 3-4 feet deep with a ditch on the far side. The gardeners for the housing association say they can't cut it because of the ditch (health & safety) but they maintain the hedge the other side of the close entrance which has no ditch or property alongside it. The hedge is full of brambles and bindweed which keep coming over and under my fencing, it overhangs my fence and blocks light. Part of my fence need repair as it is leaning back into the hedge so I need to get the other side to push it back up however this is impossible due to the prickly shrubs and brambles. In addition to this, the housing association planted shrubs along the bottom of my garden along the outside of my bottom fence which have now grown to about 8ft and block the view of the downs. These are also never cut and the housing association says they think that land belongs to the farmer and that they are not their responsibility even though they planted them after I moved in. Where do I stand on ggetting these hedges cut and who should be cutting them. I pay monthly a charge added to my rent a fee for maintenance of communal areas.
Brambles - 11-Nov-16 @ 11:21 AM
beechyhead - Your Question:
I have a property that I own all the boundaries. One side is an access track to a farmyard behind my property. This track is lined with a beautiful beech hedging. This has been there for some 15 years and is commented on by all who pass it as its copper and green. 8 ft in height it also acts as a privacy wall so the property does not over look the farm equiptment that comes and goes.We have owned tha property for 4 years and have always maintained both sides of the hedge ourselves. It is about 50 meters long and always trimmed back twice a year.It has never been an issue and for 15 years it has been maintained by both myself and the previous owner.Yesterday the farmer decided he wanted it to be trimmed back so without prior consent or notification he used a tractor with hedge trimmer on it to decimate his side of the hedge which only borders an access track and not anyones garden. I spoke to him to ask why now ? after all these years he had done this causing distress to myself and the hedge. his answer was because he could as its bordering his property.Is this correct ? do I have any comeback on this ?

Our Response:
Yes he is entitled to cut back any growth that overhangs his side of the boundary, but if it's destroyed the hedge, it could constitute criminal damage and you can take legal action.
ProblemNeighbours - 9-Nov-16 @ 11:01 AM
Orlando - Your Question:
With the approval of our neighbor I plant a boundary hedge in our property more that eight years ago. My gardener has been trimming both sides of the edge. My neighbor is now demanding I cut my edge because it has overgrowed in his property. Do I obligated to cut the hedge in his side? I love my hedge and my neighbor never complained before.

Our Response:
No you should not have to trim on your neighbour's side as long as the hedge was planted originally on your side of the boundary (i.e it's your hedge).
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Nov-16 @ 11:57 AM
I have a property that I own all the boundaries. One side is an access track to a farmyard behind my property. This track is lined with a beautiful beech hedging. This has been there for some 15 years and is commented on by all who pass it as its copper and green .. 8 ft in height it also acts as a privacy wall so the property does not over look the farm equiptment that comes and goes. We have owned tha property for 4 years and have always maintained both sides of the hedge ourselves. It is about 50 meters long and always trimmed back twice a year. It has never been an issue and for 15 years it has been maintained by both myself and the previous owner. Yesterday the farmer decided he wanted it to be trimmed back so without prior consent or notification he used a tractor with hedge trimmer on it to decimate his side of the hedge which only borders an access track and not anyones garden. I spoke to him to ask why now ? after all these years he had done this causing distress to myself and the hedge. his answer was because he could as its bordering his property. Is this correct ? do I have any comeback on this ?
beechyhead - 8-Nov-16 @ 10:22 AM
With the approval of our neighbor I plant a boundary hedge in our property more that eight years ago. My gardener has been trimming both sides of the edge. My neighbor is now demanding I cut my edge because it has overgrowed in his property. Do I obligated to cut the hedge in his side? I love my hedge and my neighbor never complained before.
Orlando - 6-Nov-16 @ 7:48 PM
I have a shared boundary where the roots of the hedge are well within our property and were planted by the previous owner. We would like to remove the hedge as it is very old and replace it with a fence due to having animals so they can't get through to the other property. The other owner of the property has refused my request to take it out and any compromise I have given them. Can I remove the roots from my side of the boundary, even though there will be virtually no hedge left?
Scarlet - 12-Oct-16 @ 6:24 PM
Brad - Your Question:
Moved into a terraced property a few years ago with a hedge around the front garden which borders the adjoining house. New neighbours have moved in and want me to come and trim there side of the hedge. Do I have to do this?

Our Response:
No, not unless their is something very specific in your deeds that says so (unlikely). In general a neighbour is entitled to trim back any growth on their side of the boundary if they want to but cannot force the hedge owner to do so on their behalf.
ProblemNeighbours - 10-Oct-16 @ 2:34 PM
Moved into a terraced property a few years ago with a hedge around the front garden which borders the adjoining house. New neighbours have moved in and want me to come and trim there side of the hedge. Do I have to do this?
Brad - 9-Oct-16 @ 11:04 AM
Dick - Your Question:
My neighbours have cut down and destroyed half of the hedge that adjoins our properties. The hedge they have removed was growing on their side of a wire fence but the hedge was grown like this to make the hedge thick and sturdy and had been established for many years. Can anyone tell me if this is legal? Now the hedge remaining is thin, unstable and has large holes in.

Our Response:
In general a neighbour can cut back any growth on their side of the boundary, but if in doing so, the hedge is irrepairably damaged (i.e dies) then the owner of the hedge can sue.
ProblemNeighbours - 5-Oct-16 @ 2:31 PM
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