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Rules on Hedges & Roots Growing into your Property

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 24 May 2018 | 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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[Add a Comment]
We have shared conifer bush with neighbour he has cut so far back it has shocked it and parts are dying where do i stand
Supes - 24-May-18 @ 9:51 AM
Ma - Your Question:
My daughter owns a house next door to a council owned property. The left hand hedge on the neighbours side is pushing down and growing through her boundary fence. The property has been renovated for new tennants, but is still empty, and she has asked the council to remove or cut the hedge, but they say they have no budget. They are totally uninterested in the difficulty it is causing her. What would be her legal position if she irretrievably damaged the hedge?Thanks

Our Response:
She can cut back any growth that overhangs/extends into her garden and can do the same with the roots. This is unlikely to cause irrepairable damage.
ProblemNeighbours - 11-May-18 @ 2:42 PM
My daughter owns a house next door to a council owned property. The left hand hedge on the neighbours side is pushing down and growing through her boundary fence. The property has been renovated for new tennants, but is still empty, and she has asked the council to remove or cut the hedge, but they say they have no budget. They are totally uninterested in the difficulty it is causing her. What would be her legal position if she irretrievably damaged the hedge? Thanks
Ma - 10-May-18 @ 1:42 PM
I live in a Park Home on a private park and my property is situated right by the park exit. I have a 41yr old 30ft border hedgerow running the full length of my garden. My next door neighbour is a council tenant and their garden boundary is a garden wall. I came home one day last year to find the said tenants had employed a private tree surgeon to strip back the hedgerow to the central line of fence posts and were using the gap created to store broken bricks and upturned bins. The park sits about 4ft above ground level and consequently my property sits about 4ft above the council land. All privacy has gone and I am, in effect on a stage where now the whole row of council house gardens have a clear view into my garden. I contacted my council and asked them to instruct their tenant that their land boundary was their garden wall however the council announced my contact to the tenant and argued for them that they had done nothing wrong as "it looks like the fence posts are the lad boundary". I actually agree with this, but council tenants as I understand it must adhere to a tenancy agreement contract, not land deeds. The council have even referred to the gap created as "the tenants land" which I cannot fathom at all. Can I take the council to court for criminal damage and harassment? I add harassment as the neighbours reported me to the police forharassment and yet I didn't even contact them. We have received 2 abusive handwritten letters from the tenants which I have kept and I have phone footage of the said tenant stood at our garden gte banging on the lounge window screaming obscenities. Along with this behaviour I received an email from the council announcing that the tenant had raised a complaint against me with them and they were instructing me to stay away from her/them. To this day I have never approached them. They are South African and can get quite nasty. The council now refer to the matter as an "ongoing neighbour dispute" although I have pointed out to them that they had caused the entire situation. What can I do? Where do I stand? Please help, this whole situation is ludicrous.
Jennifer - 27-Apr-18 @ 10:17 PM
I live in a Park Home on a private park and my property is situated right by the park exit. I have a 41yr old 30ft border hedgerow running the full length of my garden. My next door neighbour is a council tenant and their garden boundary is a garden wall. I came home one day last year to find the said tenants had employed a private tree surgeon to strip back the hedgerow to the central line of fence posts and were using the gap created to store broken bricks and upturned bins. The park sits about 4ft above ground level and consequently my property sits about 4ft above the council land. All privacy has gone and I am, in effect on a stage where now the whole row of council house gardens have a clear view into my garden. I contacted my council and asked them to instruct their tenant that their land boundary was their garden wall however the council announced my contact to the tenant and argued for them that they had done nothing wrong as "it looks like the fence posts are the lad boundary". I actually agree with this, but council tenants as I understand it must adhere to a tenancy agreement contract, not land deeds. The council have even referred to the gap created as "the tenants land" which I cannot fathom at all. Can I take the council to court for criminal damage and harassment? I add harassment as the neighbours reported me to the police forharassment and yet I didn't even contact them. We have received 2 abusive handwritten letters from the tenants which I have kept and I have phone footage of the said tenant stood at our garden gte banging on the lounge window screaming obscenities. Along with this behaviour I received an email from the council announcing that the tenant had raised a complaint against me with them and they were instructing me to stay away from her/them. To this day I have never approached them. They are South African and can get quite nasty. The council now refer to the matter as an "ongoing neighbour dispute" although I have pointed out to them that they had caused the entire situation. What can I do? Where do I stand? Please help, this whole situation is ludicrous.
Jennifer - 27-Apr-18 @ 10:08 PM
We own the back fence/hedge bording our neighbours.It is quite overgrown my partner states we have to maintain both sides of the hedge I reckon we don't have to legally.Where do we stand?
Elly - 21-Apr-18 @ 12:15 PM
Hi my neighbors have really high leylandis in their garden they are not far off the height of the house. We have a fence my side which needs taking down and renewing which I’m prepared to pay for because it’s mine so my question is who’s responsible to trim these trees on my side even though they are not a boundary hedge I haven’t long moved into my property either.
Chrissy - 20-Apr-18 @ 10:43 PM
Hannahrd90 - Your Question:
We are currently building an extension and want to put some 6ft laurels along our boundary (other side is a footpath) people down the road have done the same thing as it won’t be blocking anyone’s views etc, my husband is worried the council will make us cut them down. Can they do that?

Our Response:
It should be fine as long as the growth does not over hang the footpath (or you keep it trimmed back regularly). Are there some other factors that we don't know of here?
ProblemNeighbours - 11-Apr-18 @ 10:48 AM
Sion Leshoes Holt - Your Question:
HiA new neighbour has just bought next door. They have cut down hawthorn and holly hedges belonging to this property. No communication has taken place. Nesting birds are in the Jolly both natural and my nest boxes. All mature and been cut a foot of stump above ground. I have a temporary pig wire fence on various sides of the hedge just to prevent my dog and my daughter squeezing through. This has been assumed the boundary and all hedgerow on there side of my temporary fence has been cut down. Still no communication after letter put through the door. Very upset and as this is from a new neighbour where is this going to end? Thank you for time

Our Response:
Whose hedge is it? Your deeds should tell you. If the hedge is their's they can do as they like unfortunately.
ProblemNeighbours - 10-Apr-18 @ 11:41 AM
Hi A new neighbour has just bought next door. They have cut down hawthorn and holly hedges belonging to this property. No communication has taken place. Nesting birds are in the Jolly both natural and my nest boxes. All mature and been cut a foot of stump above ground. I have a temporary pig wire fence on various sides of the hedge just to prevent my dog and my daughter squeezing through. This has been assumed the boundary and all hedgerow on there side of my temporary fence has been cut down. Still no communication after letter put through the door. Very upset and as this is from a new neighbour where is this going to end? Thank you for time
Sion Leshoes Holt - 9-Apr-18 @ 12:46 PM
We are currently building an extension and want to put some 6ft laurels along our boundary (other side is a footpath) people down the road have done the same thing as it won’t be blocking anyone’s views etc, myhusband is worried the council will make us cut them down. Can they do that?
Hannahrd90 - 8-Apr-18 @ 8:33 PM
I live in a detached house with neighbours on 3 sides, we are a corner plot and have a narrow mouth to our driveway that then opens up as it goes towards the house. Along one side of the driveway separating our house from our neighbours, there is a short (very short, not even 2 feet) white fence and some conifer bushes in a line. They follow the fence on our side to a point, but about 2/3 of the way along (towards the mouth of the driveway) the fence stops and it is just hedges, ending at a small triangle of gravel at the end where our driveways meet. We would like to remove the hedges and replace them with a short wooden fence, due to the narrowness of our driveway, we can't let them grow on our side and they are basically cut down to the barkbut are covered in ivy and very unsightly. Added to that, the fence is broken in a couple of places. I can't find any word in our deeds or plot outline as to who the boundary belongs to, but I believe that I should be able to at least remove the hedges that are on my side of the fence (the trunks enter the ground on my side) but this would still leave a potential dispute about the two trunks that take over where the fence ends. I wanted to seek advise before acting, as I have had a few minor disputes with this neighbour (mostly about parking) and don't want more trouble than is necessary.
smoozey - 10-Mar-18 @ 10:04 PM
DL - Your Question:
My neighbour has a beech hedge that is in her garden and lies against my garden fence - a fence which I consider to mark the boundary line. Her hedge overhangs my fence and is a nuisance in the sense that it robs my garden of light and sheds leaves in autumn. Since it's her hedge I asked her whether the guy that cuts her side and levels out the top every year could also trim it back to the line of my fence on my side so it doesn't overhang into my garden. She refused saying it was my responsibility to maintain my side but I really resent the fact that I have to maintain HER hedge and the fact that I will have to pay to have it trimmed out of my own pocket! Do I have any rights here?

Our Response:
Unfortunately for you, it's your responsibility to trim back any overhanging branches yourself if they are bothering you. If you are concerned about the height of the hedge, you should tryand negotiate with your neighbour, but unfortunately because beech is not evergreen, you may not be able to actually take action under the High Hedges legislation.
ProblemNeighbours - 20-Feb-18 @ 9:47 AM
My neighbour has a beech hedge that is in her garden and lies against my garden fence - a fence which I consider to mark the boundary line. Her hedge overhangs my fence and is a nuisance in the sense that it robs my garden of light and sheds leaves in autumn. Since it's her hedge I asked her whether the guy that cuts her side and levels out the top every year could also trim it back to the line of my fence on my side so it doesn't overhang into my garden. She refused saying it was my responsibility to maintain my side but I really resent the fact that I have to maintain HER hedge andthe fact that I will have to pay to have it trimmed out of my own pocket! Do I have any rights here?
DL - 15-Feb-18 @ 11:44 AM
Hi I have 2 tall conifers at the end of my garden which were here when we moved in. The branch over hang into our neighbors garden. The neighbor has cut out tree back which I am ok with but has thrown the branches back over into my garden for me to dispose of. Who should get rid of the branches?
Bob - 25-Jan-18 @ 2:38 PM
dalisa - Your Question:
We have a boundary hedge, 8ft tall on our side and 10ft on the other. The other side is on a small housing association site which has elderly persons flats on. The hedge is perfect for security on our side, as it stops anyone just coming in to our garden, and privacy on both sides. I maintain my side twice a year and birds and bees regularly nest in the hedge. I came home from work the other day and the housing association had been and chopped the whole lot down so all privacy and security has now gone. They said it was a "health and safety" issue!! We are now completely exposed with a massive security issue and when they have chopped it away they have revealed a spiked fence which is very dangerous. They are going right down the avenue, which is another 8 houses and everybody is very angry as they will have the same problem. The association say they didn't need to inform us as the hedge is on their property, but surely if they were going to destroy all the avenues hedge we should have some sort of warning.

Our Response:
If the hedge belongs to the neighbour (the housing association in this case), then they can do as they like with it. Check your title deeds to see if there is anything that relates to maintenance/ownership of the boundary just to be sure.
ProblemNeighbours - 2-Jan-18 @ 11:06 AM
We have a boundary hedge, 8ft tall on our side and 10ft on the other.The other side is on a small housing association site which has elderly persons flats on.The hedge is perfect for security on our side, as it stops anyone just coming in to our garden, and privacy on both sides. I maintain my side twice a year and birds and bees regularly nest in the hedge.I came home from work the other day and the housing association had been and chopped the whole lot down so all privacy and security has now gone.They said it was a "health and safety" issue!!We are now completely exposed with a massive security issue and when they have chopped it away they have revealed a spiked fence which is very dangerous.They are going right down the avenue, which is another 8 houses and everybody is very angry as they will have the same problem.The association say they didn't need to inform us as the hedge is on their property, but surely if they were going to destroy all the avenues hedge we should have some sort of warning.
dalisa - 23-Dec-17 @ 3:06 PM
Lozzaloula - Your Question:
My partner and I have just bought a property. When I went to the estate agents to pick up the keys, they gave me a letter from my new neighbour. The letter was a copy of an agreement between my neighbour and one of the old occupiers of the house from 10 years ago. It states that our neighbour planted a new hedgerow in our garden which he paid for. I can only assume that we have received this letter in an attempt to let us know that the hedge is his property and we don't have the rights to remove it. The planting of the hedgerow is clearly on our garden and is in a bad state. We eventually want to remove it and replace with something healthier and nicer, however we are worried about the legal implications. Can you please advise where we stand on this matter?

Our Response:
The agreement was not made between you and the neighbour so it's unlikely that you would be tied to it. Why didn't the previous owners mention this in the sellers questionnaire? Your solicitor might be able to help. If it's clearly in your garden is not part of your neighbour's fence maintenance, responsibilities (your deeds will say who, if anyone is repsonsible for maintenance of a boundary fence), you should be able to get away with removing it, but do seek legal advice first.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Nov-17 @ 2:52 PM
My partner and I have just bought a property. When I went to the estate agents to pick up the keys, they gave me a letter from my new neighbour. The letter was a copy of an agreement between my neighbour and one of the old occupiers of the house from 10 years ago. It states that our neighbour planted a new hedgerow in our garden which he paid for. I can only assume that we havereceived this letter in an attempt to let us know that the hedge is his property and we don't have the rights to remove it. The planting of the hedgerow is clearly on our garden and is in a bad state. We eventually want to remove it and replace with something healthier and nicer, however we are worried about the legal implications. Can you please advise where we stand on this matter?
Lozzaloula - 5-Nov-17 @ 6:15 PM
Davvers - Your Question:
Hi. Just had my neighbour come shouting at me threatening to take me to court so want advise.The boundary between my house and theirs is separated by a chain link fence which the deeds state is their boundary.In my land on my side if this fence is a horrible shrub which I want to take out as it is wasting around 4ft of useable space.As I started to cut this out I was shouted at and told to stop as the shrub was "shared" and they don't want it removed.I disagree but stopped just to make sure. No roots are on their side. No shrub goes onto their property as they cut it back flush with this fence. I believe I can remove this shrub and as the roots are all on my side and it doesn't form part of the physical boundary (the fence does that), I can remove it?Thanks

Our Response:
We don't have all the facts so it's difficult for us to comment. When you say the deeds state that it's "their boundary" - that could mean it's their responsibility and they have to maintain it. If so the shrub and chain link fence could have been placed there by them and joint form part of their fence/maintenance. You'd really need to get a boundary expert to take a look at the deeds and the site. Alternatively try a local mediation service.
ProblemNeighbours - 1-Nov-17 @ 12:50 PM
Hi. Just had my neighbour come shouting at me threatening to take me to court so want advise. The boundary between my house and theirs is separated by a chain link fence which the deeds state is their boundary. In my land on my side if this fence is a horrible shrub which I want to take out as it is wasting around 4ft of useable space. As I started to cut this out I was shouted at and told to stop as the shrub was "shared" and they don't want it removed. I disagree but stopped just to make sure. No roots are on their side. No shrub goes onto their property as they cut it back flush with this fence. I believe I can remove this shrub and as the roots are all on my side and it doesn't form part of the physical boundary (the fence does that), I can remove it? Thanks
Davvers - 30-Oct-17 @ 11:49 AM
Hi, When my neighbour moved in he planted shrubs alongside the wall separating our properties at the front and along the fence at the back, he also planted a privet hedge flush with my path which runs alongside my driveway. I have no problem with the shrubs alongside the wall as I cut back anything that overhangs my property, although it is now well over 2 metres in height, the shrubs at the back have destroyed two fences over the years as they have pushed against them, broken through or caused them to rot. My main problem however is the privet hedge alongside my path, he has never maintained it and I have had to cut it back every year. I'm sure that I've read somewhere that unlike a garden, as it is overgrowing my path he is responsible for cutting it back, or paying to have it done should he not want to do it himself. Is this correct? I want it cut back to the edge of the path as I want to erect a short wall to stop it continually obstructing my path.
JDogg - 2-Oct-17 @ 1:24 PM
Bow - Your Question:
Hi mine is a question are neighbors have cut the top of our hedge which belongs to us with out asking they have also reduced the height of it we were growing it high due to there cameras they have in the tree what laws have they broken

Our Response:
If the hedge belongs to you, you may be able to take civil action for criminal damage.
ProblemNeighbours - 14-Sep-17 @ 2:31 PM
Bow where is the hedge? Is it on your property? If it is and it was hanging over you are allowed to trim it back but I believe they must offer you the cuttings back, which you don't have to take. Your message is not clear - are you sure there are cameras in the trees?
Rebecca - 13-Sep-17 @ 6:26 PM
Hi mine is a question are neighbors have cut the top of our hedge which belongs to us with out asking they have also reduced the height of it we were growing it high due to there cameras they have in the tree what laws have they broken
Bow - 13-Sep-17 @ 1:43 PM
Jp53, I've been reading as much as I can on these bothersome topics. I wish I had neighbours who want me to cut my hedge as it strays into their garden. Mine just want to savage my hedge on my side. This is accompanied by their cutting down of my fruit bushes, dumping their rubbish into my garden and totally destroying a flat gravelled area I was making into a wildlife patch. Not once was I asked for permission for them to enter the garden or carry out their destruction. There has been a total loss of privacy in my garden thanks to these NsFH.
Ariadne - 3-Sep-17 @ 5:16 PM
A slightly different situation from what Jp53 has said above: My house, a semi, adjoins one where the neighbour cuts down the hedge.The hedge is rooted on my side though the roots may spread underneath the boundary fence the hedge conceals.I have the woody base of the hedge on my side. If I cut the hedge at the bottom then the adjoining house has no hedge. Does this mean it isn't my hedge?
Ariadne - 1-Sep-17 @ 8:17 PM
I was after some advice. A small picketfence seperates my back garden from my neighbours. Growing over and around the small fence is a variety of bushes shrubs etc which create a natural boundary between the properties.90% of these grow from just within our side of the fence line and a small amount from our neighbors side.Theboundary is no higher than two meters high so height is not the issue but our neighbour seems to insist that we should cut back his side of the boundary as he is not happy it is encroaching into his boundary line who is right here as we are refusing to cut his side. Any help much appreciated the law is clear on hedges being no higher than 2 metres but not so clear on this .
Jp53 - 24-Aug-17 @ 7:01 PM
Pebbles - Your Question:
We have lived in our bungalow for 40 years. We have a smallish garden and have the sun through the day until early evening. To the west is a very large house and garden where they planted a conifer hedge years ago which has now grown to 25feet high with one tree now 40foot high. this is restricting the light and sunshine and we are now sat in our conservatory at 6pm in August and virtually the whole garden is in shade. What should we do? thank you

Our Response:
The high hedges legislation may help you, please take a look at our guide here for more information.
ProblemNeighbours - 17-Aug-17 @ 12:42 PM
Lejoky - Your Question:
My neighbour has cut back my hedge and has dumped a skip full of cuttings on my garden. Is this legal?

Our Response:
No - unless they were maintaining the hedge on your side, on you behalf, in which case it's probably reasonabe to expect you to dispose of them. If they were simply trimming back overhanging branches on their side of the boundary, they should "offer" them back to you but you can refuse to accept them.
ProblemNeighbours - 16-Aug-17 @ 11:23 AM
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