Hedges grow and if you live in close proximity to another house, you may find that their hedges will grow in your garden. If that becomes an issue, you might wonder if you can trim your neighbour’s overgrown hedge.
By law you are entitled to cut back the roots and growth of your neighbour’s hedges where they cross into your property, however you are not allowed to cut hedges on their property without permission. Similarly, your neighbour can trim your hedge on their property if it is becoming an issue.
The real world is never quite as black and white as that statement, so let’s drill into this topic a bit more to make sense of it all.
Boundaries, Hedges & Responsibilities
When you buy a property you will receive the Deeds and these explain where the boundaries of your property, and therefore your responsibilities, are. These responsibilities will relate to water and utilities that enter your property and also to the hedges and fences that form the outer perimeter of your property.
It is your responsibility to maintain your boundaries to ensure that they do not obstruct neighbours or the general public. In many cases, if your property is bordered with fences or walls, this may only require occasional work to prevent accidental harm to others, however with hedges it can take more work.
You are responsible for the condition of any plants that grow inside your boundaries, whether they are flowers, bushes, trees, shrubs or hedges. Plants grow, and hedges are some of the most noticeable examples of what can happen if that growth is left unchecked. While some hedge plants have minimal growth in terms of height and width, privacy hedge plants like leylandii or laurel can reach great heights quite quickly.
When this growth starts to impact on the wellbeing of others, it is up to you to remedy the situation. In most cases this will not require a great deal of effort on your part, and if you can establish a regular trimming routine you will avoid any issues.
If you need help with how to trim a hedge, my beginner’s guide is a must-read!
If you have any concerns about hedges and their impact on your neighbours, contact your local planning authority as they will give you specific advice in relation to your location. While this post is intended to shed some light on this subject, please be sure to seek professional guidance if you are having profound issues.
In all cases, try to liaise with your neighbours and work with them to achieve the best outcome. You live with your neighbours for a long time and harmony is important. Our post on hedges and planning permission explains the steps you can take to avoid major disputes in this respect.
Let’s have a look at specific examples of hedgerow challenges and how you can address them:
My Neighbour’s Hedge Is Overgrown
If your neighbours hedge is growing in width and encroaching on your space, you are entitled to trim any part of it that crosses your boundary. You can quite easily trim back leaves and branches, and you can even trim back roots if they are invasive, however this may have a detrimental impact on the whole plant.
It is good practice to discuss your trimming plans with your neighbours so that they understand what you will do with their plant. You should take care not to damage the plant when trimming as you don’t want to kill it – this can lead to greater issues and you may find yourself liable for replacing plants that you damage.
However with light, regular trimming you should be able to train the plant to stay in a shape that fits the space, thereby achieving privacy and a nice visual aesthetic without too much effort.
For more information on boundary hedges and responsibility, check out our handy guide, and if you don’t know when to trim a hedge, I’ve got you covered!
My Neighbour’s Hedge Is Too Tall
If a Hedge is over two metres high, it is considered a high hedge and may be subject to local authority planning restraints. If your neighbour’s hedge exceeds this height, and they are unwilling to trim it themselves, you should contact your local authority who can take steps to get it cut back.
In the first instance, however, you should liaise with your neighbours to see if they can remove the excess height. If you are able to support them with the work, or even carry out the work for them, this might facilitate matters.
As with the width of plants, the height can be managed by frequent trimming with a pole cutter or using a normal hedge trimmer and a suitable platform. By trimming high hedges to within two metres, the task remains manageable and you can usually prevent things from getting out of control.
My Neighbour Wants To Cut My Hedge
If you have hedge plants that are becoming a problem for your neighbours, they are allowed to cut back the growth that is inside their property. Your neighbours are permitted to ask you to trim troublesome hedge plants and you are encouraged to work with them for the best outcome.
The Local Authority can take steps to force you to maintain or remove problematic hedge plants, although this is a last resort and you would be encouraged to seek mediation to resolve issues if they cannot be easily fixed on a casual basis.
If you have a property with hedge plants that you might not be able to maintain, you can seek professional help from local gardeners, but you may also wish to consider removing the plants and replacing them with less strenuous alternatives. Conveniently, I’ve written a guide to good hedge plants that might give you some ideas.
I Am A Tenant And My Hedges Are Overgrown
If you are renting a property and the hedges are becoming overgrown, your tenancy agreement should clarify whether you or your landlord is responsible for maintaining them. If you can trim the hedges, this is the simplest solution, but you may be entitled to seek your landlord’s support in dealing with overgrown hedges and trees on their property.
Where possible, act quickly to prevent the hedges from becoming more overgrown. If you are concerned about the cost of hedge trimming, our guide to budget hedge trimming equipment may put your mind at ease.
Can I Force My Neighbour To Cut Their Trees?
Overhanging trees can become an issue on your property and you are entitled to trim back parts of any tree that falls inside your boundaries. However you cannot force your neighbour to trim a tree on their property, nor can you enter their property to trim the tree without permission.
If you are unsure about neighbouring trees, consult your Local Authority.
What Is The Legal Height Of A Hedge?
In the UK, Tall Trees and High Hedges fall within the rules of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act of 2003. The law considers a high hedge to be a plant that is over 2 metres or 6.5 feet tall.
Local Authority rules may vary so if you are unsure, seek professional guidance. Your Local Authority can also advise on Tree Preservation Orders and other legislation that may affect the plants on your property.