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Rules on Hedges & Roots Growing into your Property

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 15 Aug 2017 | 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"

Just as with trees, if a hedge borders your property but is solely owned by your neighbour, it is their duty to maintain it. 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. 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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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
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
Pebbles - 15-Aug-17 @ 6:41 PM
My neighbour has cut back my hedge and has dumped a skip full of cuttings on my garden. Is this legal?
Lejoky - 14-Aug-17 @ 11:40 AM
Natasha - Your Question:
At the back of all out boundary fences to our gardens there is a path between our fence and the retaining wall. all the neighbours maintain the parts of the path know as a fire path that are outside their gardens however one neighbour refuses to take care of the part outside his fence and will not allow anyone else to maintain it. they have foliage from their garden spread right across the path including tree branches ect making it no longer accessible or if so with great difficulty. What are my rights to clear the path as it doesn't belong to him it's communal. this is becoming a massive issue and we have all been here since the houses were built and know what should be done

Our Response:
Are you all home owners or is this council property? If so, the council should handle it. If not, you need to check your deeds to establish who owns the land...if you're all joint ownersr you may need to combine to take legal action because access rights or the terms of your deeds have been interered with. If the path is indeed to aid the emergency services in the event of a fire, then your local fire services might be able to take action too.
ProblemNeighbours - 3-Aug-17 @ 10:06 AM
Hi Hedginess For a) see response to Maundundas. And for b) see response to PhilK. Am still confused! M
M - 2-Aug-17 @ 8:26 AM
@M. Where does it say that? Sorry can't find it.
Hedginess - 1-Aug-17 @ 2:49 PM
I am a bit confused re your comments a) "If the neighbour owns the hedge he is resposible for maintaining it on both sides" and b)" There is no real responsibility on a hedge owner to maintain the hedge on the side that is not on their property" Could you clarify this please? As a hedge owner am I responsible for the annual trimmimg of the hedge on my neighbour's side? Many thanks, M.
M - 1-Aug-17 @ 2:04 PM
At the back of all out boundary fences to our gardens there is a path between our fence and the retaining wall... all the neighbours maintain the parts of the path know as a fire path that are outside their gardens however one neighbour refuses to take care of the part outside his fence and will not allow anyone else to maintain it... they have foliage from their garden spread right across the path including tree branches ect making it no longer accessible or if so with great difficulty... What are my rights to clear the path as it doesn't belong to him it's communal... this is becoming a massive issue and we have all been here since the houses were built and know what should be done
Natasha - 31-Jul-17 @ 4:36 PM
Union Jack - Your Question:
I own a field behind some houses. Only the gardens look out on the field but no windows. Some years ago I planted some blackberries along the boundary on my side of my own stock fence which is on my boundary. A new neighbour has threatened to cut the blackberries down and send me the bill. If he comes into my field without my permission, is that trespassing? I would think so. Also I do not mind if he trims the blackberries on his own boundary and throws the cuttings over. But he is very aggressive. I also have heifers in the field.

Our Response:
He cannot do this. As you rightly state, your neighbour can trim back any branches that overhang his side of the boundary.
ProblemNeighbours - 28-Jul-17 @ 11:53 AM
I own a field behind some houses. Only the gardens look out on the field but no windows. Some years ago I planted some blackberries along the boundary on my side of my own stock fence which is on my boundary. A new neighbour has threatened to cut the blackberries down and send me the bill. If he comes into my field without my permission, is that trespassing? I would think so. Also I do not mind if he trims the blackberries on his own boundary and throws the cuttings over. But he is very aggressive. I also have heifers in the field.
Union Jack - 25-Jul-17 @ 9:55 PM
cbr600 - Your Question:
We bought a disused farmyard and have converted a building to live in. The old farmhouse is adjacent and was sold prior to us buying the yard. The new owners of the house planted a mixed species hedge along part of the garden and laurel on the rest which was well established when we moved in. Up until last year we have trimmed the natural hedge between us by mutual agreement but last year neighbour decided to cut it down to 4 feet high totally taking any privacy away. When questioned he said it was for ease of maintenance so I offered to take over cutting which was agreed. Last week while we were out he cut some of it low again and continued to do so the next day while we were out. We have avoided him as so angry! My husband got out the deeds to our property and we have now discovered that the hedge was planted on our side of the boundary i.e boundary is 5.92 mtrs from an outbuilding, roots as 5 mtrs form the building. We have not yet tackled him over this to avoid bad feeling but would like to know how we stand please

Our Response:
If the hedge is on your side of the boundary, you could construct a fence on the actual boundary to allow you to do as you like to the hedge. As the new owners planted the hedge - they may of course dispute that is it not on the boundary and will say that they can do as theylike with the hedge as it belongs to them (which is fair enough). The only way to resolve that, if you cannot do so amicably would be to use a boundary expert/the legal system. If you accept that the hedge is theirs and they can therefore do as they like with it, your ideal means of maintaining privacy would be to plant, or construct something else on your side.
ProblemNeighbours - 25-Jul-17 @ 11:58 AM
We bought a disused farmyard and have converted a building to live in.The old farmhouse is adjacent and was sold prior to us buyingthe yard.The new owners of the house planted a mixed species hedge along part of the garden and laurel on the rest which was well established when we moved in.Up until last year we have trimmed the natural hedge between us by mutual agreement but last year neighbour decided to cut it down to 4 feet high totally taking any privacy away.When questioned he said it was for ease of maintenance so I offered to take over cutting which was agreed.Last week while we were out he cut some of it low again and continued to do so the next day while we were out.We have avoided him as so angry!My husband got out the deeds to our property and we have now discovered that the hedge was planted on our side of the boundary i.e boundary is 5.92 mtrs from an outbuilding, roots as 5 mtrs form the building.We have not yet tackled him over this to avoid bad feeling but would like to know how we stand please
cbr600 - 18-Jul-17 @ 1:31 PM
Maudundas - Your Question:
Hi, I have lived in my property which is an end terrace in a small cul-de-sac for the last 17 years. When I first came the neighbour then had a leylandii hedge which he kept at a reasonable height and he used to cut his side and the side that overlapped mine.New neighbours are there now and the side of my property which meets on their side has totally overgrown and is overlapping my property by about 12 ft. The hedges have practically forced my buddleia bushes over. Their side is higher than mine and I have an above ground pool next to the buddleia which his hedge is growing over also. I have asked them to cut them back, and when we went on holiday he had his hedge cut but never did our side. Do I have any rights as these trees are about 30 ft high. We don't have a good relationship with them to be honest as they have a westie that never stops barking either.Thank you in advance

Our Response:
If the neighbour owns the hedge he is responsible for maintaining it on both sides. If it is not a hedge but simply a row of trees then this would usually be different as a tree owner is not obliged to trim back any branches that overhang a neighbouring property. As conifers are evergreen however, the High Hedges legislation could be useful; see ourguide here
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Jul-17 @ 11:45 AM
Hi,I have lived in my property which is an end terrace in a small cul-de-sac for the last 17 years.When i first came the neighbour then had a leylandii hedge which he kept at a reasonable height and he used to cut his side and the side that overlapped mine. New neighbours are there nowand the side of my property which meets on their side has totally overgrown and is overlapping my property by about 12 ft.The hedges have practically forced my buddleia bushes over.Their side is higher than mine and i have an above ground pool next to the buddleia which his hedge is growing over also.I have asked them to cut them back, and when we went on holiday he had his hedge cut but never did our side.Do i have any rights as these trees are about 30 ft high.We don't have a good relationship with them to be honest as they have a westie that never stops barking either. Thank you in advance
Maudundas - 5-Jul-17 @ 2:37 PM
forkandles - Your Question:
Hello,please advise regarding an issue with a private boundary hedge, as follows:Hedge belongs to my property & is planted in my front garden.The height is 6ft and always well trimmed on both sides by myself.It does not block their light as adjacent to their garage.It very slightly grows into next doors garden, as is the nature of a hedge, however you can plainly see all of next doors block paving up to the boundary. I trimmed the hedge the other day & the following day their family member arrived & subsequently cut large areas of the hedge away leaving a large hole on their side. Are they allowed to do this? As I feel it is going to kill the hedge (which is their goal?)What route should I go down to stop any further damage please (police?) thank you.

Our Response:
This is a civil matter, so you if you're not happy with simply having a conversation with your neighbour asking them not to touch the hedge again, you might have to seek action for damages via the courts.
ProblemNeighbours - 30-Jun-17 @ 11:41 AM
Hello,please advise regarding an issue with a private boundary hedge, as follows:Hedge belongs to my property & is planted in my front garden.The height is 6ft and always well trimmed on both sides by myself.It does not block their light as adjacent to their garage.It very slightly grows into next doors garden, as is the nature of a hedge, however you can plainly see all of next doors block paving up to the boundary. I trimmed the hedge the other day & the following day their family member arrived & subsequently cut large areas of the hedge away leaving a large hole on their side. Are they allowed to do this? As I feel it is going to kill the hedge (which is their goal?)What route should I go down to stop any further damage please (police?) thank you.
forkandles - 29-Jun-17 @ 12:06 PM
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
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
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