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Rules on Hedges & Roots Growing into your Property

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 21 Sep 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 maintained a hedge between our neighbour & us for 32 years she is now saying it is on her property & not on the boundary line & she is going to have it removed & a fence erected but the fence will come further into our garden. Can she do this?
Hall - 21-Sep-18 @ 4:49 PM
Dear Josy. I also have a right of access down a privately owned lane so I can tell you what has happened here. Another neighbour who is a police man and has a right of way informed the land owner that his speed bump (which was above normal height and scrapping the bottom of his car) was causing criminal damage to his property (his car). I would guess the same applies to overgrown hedges etc. The speed bump by the way was promptly removed. I imagine said police man neighbour had looked into his rights first. Hope this helps.
Jay - 27-Aug-18 @ 7:15 PM
Hi,My neighbour owns a hedge which defines our boundary.However they seem to think it is good practice to lean concrete slabs against the hedge causing the hedge to lean into my garden and also put stress on the hedge itself.I asked them 10 weeks ago if they could remove the slabs and they have done nothing other than lean more things against the hedge.What could i do please.
chippy - 14-Aug-18 @ 5:13 PM
Maximuss - Your Question:
We have recently approached our neighbour regarding our dilapidated fence which has been damaged due to his conifer trees pushing against the structure and natural wear over time. After some lengthily communication, in writing,we agreed that the fence bordering our properties was equally our responsibility and have now replaced the dividing fence. As part of the agreement he gave written confirmation that he would reduce the height of the conifers to a mutually agreed level. He then proceeded to cut the trees with what equates to a pair of scissors and soon became disenchanted and gave up saying that he could not cut the trees back any further. H e was soon reminded of his earlier commitment and replied by saying he didn't actually state to what level he would reduce the height. It is worth explaining at this point that the trees in question sit on a boundary between his property, my property and another property to his rear. Neither I or the other neighbour at the rear have benefited from his attempt to reduce the height which has been brought to his attention. His reply is simply that he does not have any obligation to attend to his trees as advised by the local Council.The facts are that the trees are about 25 feet high and access to trim the overgrowth is difficult and dangerous. This has been the basis of our concerns for the future as the task of maintaining the trees is only likely to be more difficult as they grow out of hand. Under the High Edges Act 2011 there could be an obligation for our neighbour to reduce the height of his trees although this does seem a grey area. My concern is not so much the loss of light , which is a factor as the tree grows in height and width, but the ongoing maintenance.t has become more and more difficult the trim our sides with no where to support a ladder. Is there any obligation on his part, litigation I could pursue and any other long term resolution?

Our Response:
You can take action under the High Hedges section of the Anti Social Behaviour act. The council will consider whether a hedge height detracts from the reasonable enjoyment of your property or garden, the council will consider all relevant factors, including light, views and the home owner's need for privacy.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Aug-18 @ 3:26 PM
We have recently approached our neighbour regarding our dilapidated fence which has been damaged due to his conifer trees pushing against the structure and natural wear over time. After some lengthily communication, in writing,we agreed that the fence bordering our properties was equally our responsibility and have now replaced the dividing fence. As part of the agreement he gave written confirmation that he would reduce the height of the conifers to a mutually agreed level. He then proceeded to cut the trees with what equates to a pair of scissors and soon became disenchanted and gave up saying that he could not cut the trees back any further. H e was soon reminded of his earlier commitment and replied by saying he didn't actually state to what level he would reduce the height. It is worth explaining at this point that the trees in question sit on a boundary between his property, my property and another property to his rear. Neither I or the other neighbour at the rear have benefitedfrom his attempt to reduce the height which has been brought to his attention. His reply is simply that he does not have any obligation to attend to his trees as advised by the local Council. The facts are that the trees are about 25 feet high and access to trim the overgrowth is difficult and dangerous. This has been the basis of our concerns for the future as the task of maintaining the trees is only likely to be more difficult as they grow out of hand. Under the High Edges Act 2011 there could be an obligation for our neighbour to reduce the height of his trees although this does seem a grey area. My concern is not so much the loss of light , which is a factor as the tree grows in height and width, but the ongoing maintenance.t has become more and more difficult the trim our sides with no where to support a ladder. Is there any obligation on his part, litigation I could pursue and any other long term resolution?
Maximuss - 7-Aug-18 @ 9:07 PM
Hi, I am a disabled ladies registered carer. Everything I do for her and her children is done on a voluntary basis. The Lady moved to the village 5 years ago. She lives in a row of twelve houses. Her back garden adjoins a farmers field. At the back of every house/side of the field there are grass cuttings, bricks and other rubbish. These have been there for years and lay underneath nettles, brambles, weeds etc...This week every house received a pretty stern `unless rubbish is removed within seven days legal action will follow` letter. I rang the farmer (A huge national business) and was told that it didnt matter when the Lady moved in, the rubbish is there now and so it is her responsibility. (The Lady is a council tenant) I live about 3 miles from the lady, there is approximately an 8 yard skip of bricks, concrete and corrugated iron sheets at the rear of her home in the field. Theres no way I could even attempt to move it all within 7 days as I am not even home this coming weekend and I work weekdays. The lady is very worried and distressed by these threats as she struggles financially. Could anybody please offer sound legal advice? The Lady didnt and couldnt physically deposit the rubbish (its not rubbish as such, its more building waste bricks etc...) it was there when she moved there five years ago and this is the first time anything has been said. If I could move it I would to prevent her worrying but I simply cannot in their time scale. Thank you in advance for helping by giving advice. Patrick
Disabled persons car - 26-Jul-18 @ 6:58 PM
Stephen - Your Question:
Rules on high hedges just get swept under the carpet with the council. Clearly states on websites that if a hedge is preventing light from garden and house then council should take action. But if you council tenant and house bought next door and hedge on boundery line the council say nothing we can do.

Our Response:
If the property with the problem trees is privately owned and you are a council tenant you can still use the high hedges legislation. Please read our guide here.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Jul-18 @ 12:54 PM
I have a building plot some weeds are growing through the fence on to my neighbors property he says they have damaged is fence He recently asked if he could cut them back and was granted permission but he didn't bother who's is responsible
Mat - 24-Jul-18 @ 7:01 AM
Rules on high hedges just get swept under the carpet with the council. Clearly states on websites that if a hedge is preventing light from garden and house then council should take action. But if you council tenant and house bought next door and hedge on boundery line the council say nothing we can do.
Stephen - 23-Jul-18 @ 8:04 PM
We have a 20m privet hedge at the bottom of our garden which we keep to roughly 2m in height to allow our son to play football without kicking the ball over all the time. There is a private lane the other side which leads to a house. The person who owns the house has employed someone to use an industrial hedge cutter to take about half a meter off the top, while we were at work. It now looks a total eyesore. We kept it neat and trimmed and looking healthy but now it looks a total mess.Is she allowed to do this without consulting us first? The hedge was there before the lane.
Hedge angry - 16-Jul-18 @ 6:41 PM
We live in a row of 4 terrace houses which has a service road running around the back of them.Although we all have access rights, the parts of the access road at each side belong to the 1st and 4th neighbour.Neighbour 4 maintains the hedges down his side of the road and there are no plants.Unfortunately neighbour 1 does not and has verbally declined to cut the plants and hedges which are increasingly growing into the road.These plants and hedges scratch the sides of our vehicles.We were allowed to trim them once, but now he refuses that option as well.Is the next step legal action?
Jossy - 16-Jul-18 @ 1:11 PM
Our neighbours weeping willow is hanging over our garden making the patch unusable. Tree is just in a conservation area but has no preservation order on it. We have spoken to the owner but he does not want to know. It has already caused our extension to subside forcing us to have the extension rebuilt. Can you advise us please.
Sandy - 10-Jul-18 @ 3:23 PM
I just witnessed my next door neighbour climb on the outhouse roof over to my side to cut bushes in my garden and then throw it in my garden, I know it is over grown but should he not ask permission to do that or ask me to cut it back myself, he is always cutting my bushes in the front garden because they hang over my side of the pathway
Bleed - 6-Jul-18 @ 11:08 AM
Sammy - Your Question:
My neighbour is a nightmare for complaining and now has two things causing me problems1/ over hanging bush in our rear garden in their side of boundary but overgrown in height and overnight hanging our garden2/ a building detached from the house with window on our boundary. It’s bright yellow and had windows on my side. It’s been there over 19 years that I have lived here but I would like to cover it with a fence or something.Can I do this and cut back the bush ?

Our Response:
You can cut back any branches that over hang your side of the boundary. You can't attach anything to your neighbour's outbuilding but you can erect a freestanding structure such as a fence/trellis on your own property. There are maximum heights for many garden structures constructed within 2 metres of a boundary so you will need to make yourself aware of these.
ProblemNeighbours - 5-Jul-18 @ 11:27 AM
My neighbour is a nightmare for complaining and now has two things causing me problems 1/ over hanging bush in our rear garden in their side of boundary but overgrown in height and overnight hanging our garden 2/ a building detached from the house with window on our boundary. It’s bright yellow and had windows on my side. It’s been there over 19 years that I have lived here but I would like to cover it with a fence or something. Can I do this and cut back the bush ?
Sammy - 1-Jul-18 @ 5:52 PM
Sally - Your Question:
My new neighbour demolished my 50+ year old beech and hawthorn hedge which is right in the boundary line strictly against my wishes. Surely half those roots belong to me and this an illegal act?N

Our Response:
If they hedges belongs to you and your neighbour has damaged it beyond repair, you can seek damages via the civil courts.
ProblemNeighbours - 29-Jun-18 @ 9:55 AM
My new neighbour demolished my 50+ year old beech and hawthorn hedge which is right in the boundary line strictly against my wishes.Surely half those roots belong to me and this an illegal act?N
Sally - 27-Jun-18 @ 12:35 PM
Steph - Your Question:
Need to know about cutting edge that are in my garden but are my next door neighbor where do I put the cutting if someone could please let me know thanks.S Allen

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

Our Response:
A property owner is not legally obliged to fence in his/her own property. There is nothing to prevent you from erecting your own fence if you so choose.
ProblemNeighbours - 15-Jun-18 @ 3:17 PM
Our neighbours owned the hedge dividing our rear gardens and wanted our consent to trim and remove any hazardous trees. They proceeded to remove all lower branches and clear hedge but left tops of trees completely exposing our previously private garden. We complained to them that we were not happy with the work, they stated that they would be putting up a fence. 10 months later and no fence, they have erected a sun terrace at the top of their garden which looks directly into the usable area of our garden and into our kitchen. When asked when the fence is going up the neighbours have replied that they are not putting one up. Where do we stand?
Notahappycamper - 15-Jun-18 @ 10:50 AM
We have a privet hedge boundary, our hedge which I planted 20 years ago on our side of the boundary line.The neighbour at the time was fine with this, unfortunately several owners later, the current neighbour persists in cutting the hedge back to the bare stems on their side and taking gouges out of the top, even through the bird nesting season ?? we have now written to them asking them to refrain from touching it, but if they don’t what is the next step?
Lincolnshire Lass - 13-Jun-18 @ 5:00 PM
Hello, we live on a small cup-de-sac on a corner plot with no direct next door neighbour. The access road to the cup-de-sac runs adjacent to our house. Across the road are a row of houses looking onto the side of our house and garden. At the side of our house, closest the road, is our fence, the other side of the fence (road side) is our hedge which i have to cut and maintain. My front lawn then continues from the front of the house and traverses the hedge. The lawn is 2 feet wide and is next to the pavement. My question is can i remove the hedge and put a new fence in where the current hedge is, leaving the same amount of lawn closest the pavement? Thanks
Muffyyy - 12-Jun-18 @ 9:54 PM
Hi, it is Sunday,I live in a housing association but was a city council tenant before the housing association took over it. I have lived in my property 21 years and thinking of buying. New neighbours who haven't been here a year yet are as I type removing half of the front garden henge that has been there 50 years. It is kept tidy. . This leaves my side of the garden open to the public walking by now has made me feel vulnerable due to being disabled and living alone. Had no discussion with neighbours they don't own rent..being a Sunday I can't call anyone official to find out if I can stop them. Not only have they left my front garden open now removing there half of hedge it will affect local birds that use it. My cat is a little shy and worried dogs may wonder in and rubbish. .kids already misbehave around here can see them running around it now. Do you think my new neighbours have been unfair and what can I do not a happy bunny.
Tessa - 10-Jun-18 @ 11:45 AM
An old-established privet hedge(mine) forms the boundary between me and one of my neighbours.My neighbour believes that this is encroaching into his garden by approximately 18". Instead of cutting it back,I recently noticed that he has dug a deep trench, exposing the roots, so that the hedge is dying.My family has lived in the house for over 70 years with no problems. I do not want to become involved in a bitter or costly dispute, any advice, please?
phoebe - 7-Jun-18 @ 3:55 PM
Milly - Your Question:
Hello, me and my husband live in a council bungalow and have been tenants for well over 14 years. The problem is that there is a small area of private ground which we and 2 other bungalows back on to. For the best part of this time my husband has been looking after part of this ground with the owner knowing, but 3 months ago the owner's son came and put a 3ft fence up and said he no longer wanted my husband to look after this piece of ground. He also sent a letter telling us. We are both upset as it is now looking a terrible mess, and the trees that have been kept under control are now growing very fast again and will soon be blocking out light from the 3 bungalows. Other vegetation is now a good 3ft high in places. The owner was happy enough when he visited twice before but now changed, as our next door neighbour apparently upset the owner's father by complaining that a tree was blocking his light, and it was. This has now been sorted out by the owner's father who paid for a tree surgeon to cut off some well over hanging branches. Can not understand why the owner's son has been like that with us though, my husband would not hurt a fly. Now this land is getting really out of hand and do not know what we should do as we do not wish to upset the son or his farther. I personally blame our neighbour who worried his father as to why my husband is not allowed to keep it tidy anymore. Should we have a word with our council? Just do not know what do it is very upsetting and I know my husband is too. Please can anyone advise or have any idea what we should do please? Many thanks for reading this I know it is a little long.

Our Response:
There isn't a great deal you can do about a neighbour's untidy garden really.If the garden is so untidy that you fear it may be harbouring mice/rats then the council will possibly consider ordering the owner to clear it up, or do so themselves and recharge the owner. See our guide to overgrown and messy gardens for more help.
ProblemNeighbours - 4-Jun-18 @ 2:52 PM
Hello, me and my husband live in a council bungalow and have been tenants for well over 14 years. The problem is that there is a small area of private ground which we and 2 other bungalows back on to. For the best part of this time my husband has been looking after part of this ground with the owner knowing, but 3 months ago the owner's son came and put a 3ft fence up and said he no longer wanted my husband to look after this piece of ground. He also sent a letter telling us. We are both upset as it is now looking a terrible mess, and the trees that have been kept under control are now growing very fast again and will soon be blocking out light from the 3 bungalows. Other vegetation is now a good 3ft high in places. The owner was happy enough when he visited twice before but now changed, as our next door neighbour apparently upset the owner's father by complaining that a tree was blocking his light, and it was. This has now been sorted out by the owner's father who paid for a tree surgeon to cut off some well over hanging branches. Can not understand why the owner's son has been like that with us though, my husband would not hurt a fly. Now this land is getting really out of hand and do not know what we should do as we do not wish to upset the son or his farther. I personally blame our neighbour who worried his father as to why my husband is not allowed to keep it tidy anymore. Should we have a word with our council? Just do not know what do it is very upsetting and I know my husband is too. Please can anyone advise or have any idea what we should do please? Many thanks for reading this I know it is a little long.
Milly - 3-Jun-18 @ 8:53 PM
Hi, I am looking to understand my scenario and where i stand legal what i can do and cannot do. - getting my driveway done, i employed someone they scammed me and they have been reported to NFA, the builder i employed did not get my consent of removing these bushes. - hedges have only been removed from my side. - both parties/ tenants that live next to me ( left and right) have hedges, and these hedges on there side has not been removed. - when i spoke the housing association (council about it) they said we cannot remove address. when i ask her if we could remove both. - as far as i am aware i can remove mine as my property is fully paid off and mine we are not tenants for this housing associations at all. - based on the above where do i stand? i am looking to put fence in the middle but do not want to get it removed by them later loosing 700 pounds. please let me know.
SAJ - 31-May-18 @ 4:50 PM
Hi, we own a property within a council area, our property is ours, we had it for years, we are getting some work done on the front driveway on both side of the property are council owned and have tenants. Within these houses, we own a majority of the hedges between both parties, we employed someone to do our driveway however he removed hedges that were on our side only without touch any that grow on there side without our consent, there is a tiny tiny branches of hedges on there side of the propertyit look awful as its, he has committed fraud and the NFA are taking action on him on that note.In my scenario the bushes/hedges have only been removed from our property boundary only ( shown from the concrete posts that are set around the front of the property. Will the council take action on this or not? we are looking to put a fence on the boundary line but was waiting on there response, they put a fence on the boundary line years ago near our drain and nothing happened. but we ask a few weeks back they said we couldn't remove the hedges( all of it both sides), they haven said we can or cannot remove from our side, being said its our property we can do what we want as long it doesn't affect them,its our hedges as far as i am aware we don't need there permission is that correct say? under some stupid policy they have with tenants they (housing association) tenants cannot remove the hedges, doesn't state we can remove ours at all legally speaking of course what are my options in this because it looks horrible im not bothered with but if i install fence i do not want it getting taken down.
saj - 31-May-18 @ 4:39 PM
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