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Rules on Hedges & Roots Growing into your Property

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 15 Jan 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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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
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.
Dick - 4-Oct-16 @ 1:30 PM
cloves - Your Question:
Hello,There is a chain link boundary fence which has a hedge growing through it between my own and neighbours garden. These are owned by my neighbour. They do not maintain it on their side and it has gone quite wild and now has bind weed and brambles growing through it.I want to cut it back on mt side to the boundary chain link fence which is fine in most places, but in some spots the hedge has twined itself through the fence, and has also set roots on my side.If I cut back the twined hedge it will leave gaps on their side and also if I cut back the roots it might die. what can I do, I really don't want their hedge taking up space in my garden, I feel that if gaps are left by me removing growth on my side they might get aggressive. What are my rights and where would I find this information in print?Any info would be helpfulThanks

Our Response:
The law is a common law tort (i.e it's been defined by precedent) of nuisance that gives an affected neighbour the right to cut back roots or branches that encroach onto their property back as far as the boundary. You have a duty to exercise reasonable care in carrying out work as failure to do so may lead to liability in negligence (for example where the removal of roots make a tree unstable).
ProblemNeighbours - 4-Oct-16 @ 11:33 AM
Hello, There is a chain link boundary fence which has a hedge growing through it between my own and neighbours garden.These are owned by my neighbour. They do not maintain it on their side and it has gone quite wild and now has bind weed and brambles growing through it. I want to cut it back on mt side to the boundary chain link fence which is fine in most places, but in some spots the hedge has twined itself through the fence, and has also set roots on my side. If I cut back the twined hedge it will leave gaps on their side and also if I cut back the roots it might die..... what can I do,I really don't want their hedge taking up space in my garden,I feel that if gaps are left by me removing growth on my side they might get aggressive.What are my rights and where would I find this information in print? Any info would be helpful Thanks
cloves - 3-Oct-16 @ 6:16 PM
Itch - Your Question:
My neighbour is a law unto himself. A few years ago he said to my husband, I'm sick of the hedge now I'm thinking of taking it out and putting in fence panels. The hedge was the boundary between both our drives. We told him that we wanted to keep the hedge. A few weeks later he had a workman ripping out the hedge, when I asked him to stop he said I'm putting up a fence. I told him to leave my side so his workman cut into the hedge and basically destroyed it all. I was fuming and said he had no business etc. £400 later I had replaced my hedge and he had his fence. He keeps cutting my hedge still and I've told him to keep his hands off but still now the 4 th time he's trimmed the side on his drive and cut over 2 foot off the height. I'm sick of him, what can I do,

Our Response:
You need to seek the help of a third party to resolve your differences - try a mediation service. Your neighbour is entitled to trim any parts of the hedge that overhang his side of the boundary but isn't supposed to cut anything off the height.
ProblemNeighbours - 30-Sep-16 @ 12:21 PM
My neighbour is a law unto himself. A few years ago he said to my husband, I'm sick of the hedge now I'm thinking of taking it out and putting in fence panels. The hedge was the boundary between both our drives. We told him that we wanted to keep the hedge. A few weeks later he had a workman ripping out the hedge, when I asked him to stop he said I'm putting up a fence. I told him to leave my side so his workman cut into the hedge and basically destroyed it all. I was fuming and said he had no business etc.. £400 later I had replaced my hedge and he had his fence. He keeps cutting my hedge still and I've told him to keep his hands off but still now the 4 th time he's trimmed the side on his drive and cut over 2 foot off the height. I'm sick of him, what can I do,
Itch - 29-Sep-16 @ 5:11 PM
DH - Your Question:
My neighbour came knocking on my door last night demanding I cut my hedge (all on my side of the property, but overhanging part is on a corner next to garages though doesn't grow up on these as by the slight exit road to them).He has stated he would do and charge me for the previlage (£400) as well charge me for his paint work to his van (£4k) as wants to park there. I've said that neither of his request for money will be happening as well as don't like being threaten on my property. As the hedge isn't against any property, but is overgrown on to the exit road from the garages would I only need to cut back as far so access is more user friendly?

Our Response:
If your hedge overhangs a highway, pavement, or other access road, you have a duty to trim it back so it is not causing an obstruction. Otherwise, you are under no obligation to cut it back. If it overhangs a neighbour's garden, they can trim back any branches overhanging their side of the boundary.
ProblemNeighbours - 28-Sep-16 @ 12:22 PM
My neighbour came knocking on my door last night demanding I cut my hedge (all on my side of the property, but overhanging part is on a corner next to garages though doesn't grow up on these as by the slight exit road to them). He has stated he would do and charge me for the previlage(£400) as well charge me for his paint work to his van (£4k) as wants to park there. I've said that neither of his request for money will be happening as well as don't like being threaten on my property. As the hedge isn't against any property, but is overgrown on to the exit road from the garages would I only need to cut back as far so access is more user friendly?
DH - 28-Sep-16 @ 6:27 AM
Help. We live along a single track road which enters out onto a 30 mph road. At the end of the track to the right the neighbours hedge is neatly trimmed, and kept at a low height so we can see right up the road for any approaching traffic and pedestrians as we try to enter the main road.However to the left the residents (who do not drive) have a hedge that has on numerous occasions been asked by the council to cut back to allow us to see to the left. They have done this although not all the way to the edge of the path and this has made things slightly better.However the height of the fence is approximately 10ft high now and we can no longer see to the left all until we are approximately half way out into the road. Also any pedestrians particularly children cannot see us coming.To make matters worse we enter out onto this road almost opposite another junction and there is also a parking bay opposite this hedge, so the oncoming traffic (bus route) has to be on the wrong side of the road as we are trying to pull out. Have tried talking to the Council but they have said there is nothing they can do as it is a private house and garden.Any suggestions as this is a death waiting to happen
none - 23-Sep-16 @ 5:47 PM
I am an older woman when at the end of last year my husband passed away. One of my neighbours then planted a mature pyracantha at least 5' high just on edge of the fence which divides our gardens. He then said to me that if I did not like it, it was just too damn tough. It is now at least 6' high and growing over into my garden. My health is not good enough to climb steps to trim my side.So this is now over-hanging my garden. Is there any other action which I can take.
KK - 23-Sep-16 @ 4:09 PM
sammy - Your Question:
Hi - my neighbour wants me to cut down my hedge in my new property because he does not want to have to maintain his side. he wants to put up a fence instead. We prefer the hedge! He said he will get a fence anyway and trim the hedge right back to the boundary line (which is right bang in the middle of the hedge) , which will probably kill the hedge. Is he allowed to do this? what are the rules. Nobody knows whose boundary hedge it is. thanks!

Our Response:
It's not an easy one to resolve especially if you don't know whose hedge it actually is. There are a few options:
1. Allow him to do as he requests and hope the hedge is not too badly affected.
2. Allow him to do as he requests but ask him to pay for a replacement hedge planting on your side if the hedge is irrevocably damaged
3. Agree to remove the hedge as requested and re-plant (or replace if this is not possible) it on your side of the boundary
4. Refuse to remove the hedge and take it court/mediation.
ProblemNeighbours - 21-Sep-16 @ 12:28 PM
Hi - my neighbour wants me to cut down my hedge in my new property because he does not want to have to maintain his side. he wants to put up a fence instead. We prefer the hedge! He said he will get a fence anyway and trim the hedge right back to the boundary line (which is right bang in the middle of the hedge) , which will probably kill the hedge. Is he allowed to do this? what are the rules. Nobody knows whose boundary hedge it is... thanks!
sammy - 19-Sep-16 @ 4:05 PM
Emma - Your Question:
We live in a bungalow at the bottom of a private lane, there were hedges bordering the lane which we very much liked, I was greeted today with workmen cutting down all the bushes with a digger from my lane - private property - which has caused damage to my lane in the grass centre being churned up and where their property is about 2 feet below us and the workmen had been instructed to cut into the earth, the side of our lane is now crumbling and unstable, we now have a circa 100 foot opening onto the carpark of the flats rather than our beautiful lane as they have also removed the original metal chain fence, assuming the metal posts and fence were the boundary they have dug about a foot into our property, entered our property to do so and caused damage to our property, we now have an unstable lane with a 2 foot drop into their property and nothing to separate us from the drop! he didn't even have the courtesy to advise us! on standing with my neighbour in shock watching the pile of destroyed hedges it was evident that there was a bird nesting in it which I believe makes it even worse! I would be grateful for any advise you can give as surely this can't be legal?

Our Response: Who actually owns the lane? If you own and it's private property you have 3 choices, contact the police (criminal damage), contact your insurance company or take private legal action aginst the contractors/developers.
ProblemNeighbours - 15-Sep-16 @ 9:46 AM
We live in a bungalow at the bottom of a private lane, there were hedges bordering the lane which we very much liked, I was greeted today with workmen cutting down all the bushes with a digger from my lane - private property - which has caused damage to my lane in the grass centre being churned up and where their property is about 2 feet below us and the workmen had been instructed to cut into the earth, the side of our lane is now crumbling and unstable, we now have a circa 100 foot opening onto the carpark of the flats rather than our beautiful lane as they have also removed the original metal chain fence, assuming the metal posts and fence were the boundary they have dug about a foot into our property, entered our property to do so and caused damage to our property, we now have an unstable lane with a 2 foot drop into their property and nothing to separate us from the drop! he didn't even have the courtesy to advise us! on standing with my neighbour in shock watching the pile of destroyed hedges it was evident that there was a bird nesting in it which i believe makes it even worse! I would be grateful for any advise you can give as surely this can't be legal?
Emma - 14-Sep-16 @ 12:21 AM
I have a school at the back where the brambles, laurel etc have grown from not being seen through a old wire and wood post fence to being six feet above a six foot replacement fence. this means that the overgrowth is significant and regularly overhangs into my garden but the school ignores us. they do however trim further up the road.the council seem to not want to get involved. not only is it unsightly but I don't understand why they won't even respond.
StuF - 28-Aug-16 @ 6:47 PM
fedup - Your Question:
Have a retired neighbour who likes to prune his hedge far too often for my liking from my property! he says he has a right to enter my property any time he likes to maintain his hedge which he says forms his boundary, but he likes to do it from my side as well as from his own garden. from the legal title documents I have paid a fortune for, his post and wire domestic fence is the boundary and it should have been a stock proof fence and his hedge is planted well within his garden. I have no issue with the hedge overgrowing his flimsy posts and wire as it overgrows into our field and my livestock eat it back to his boundary anyway. have tried to be polite and reasonable, but old owner used to let him roam about the field any time he liked, but it now forms part of my garden and I don't want him here every week I would like privacy in my own home!

Our Response:
Access is usually allowed for "essential maintenance" - it's highly likely that your neighbour does not need to access the other side of his fence for "maintenance" on a weekly basis. Also if it's a relatively rural area and you have livestock, there's a chance the hedge might be used for nesting and if so there are laws that prevent any hedge cutting under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
ProblemNeighbours - 2-Aug-16 @ 11:09 AM
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