The thought of planting a hedge around your home is a common one, but you might not know what the law states and whether you need permission. I decided to look into this issue, and also what rules apply to hedgerow removal, and I’ve got good news!
You do not need any sort of permission to plant a hedge in your garden. Equally, no law or regulation states that you must obtain planning permission to remove a hedge on your property. However, it is your responsibility to maintain and control the hedge to avoid neighbour disputes.
There are many good reasons for planting a hedge in your garden, from privacy to security or just visual appeal, and I thought I’d cover a few more things to consider before starting on this kind of project.
Everybody Needs Good Neighbours
An important aspect to consider when planning your hedge planting is the effect if will have on the immediate surroundings, and while the impact on wildlife (in particular, nests) should not be overlooked, the influence that a tall hedge might have on your neighbours is definitely something you should bear in mind.
Your neighbours are well within their legal rights to raise complaints with the local council if your hedge gets out of control and starts interfering with their property. Therefore, you must select an area for the hedge where it will not interfere with the neighbouring garden both during planting and when it has already grown.
Hedgerow Maintenance Is Your Obligation
Depending on your preferences, a hedge is cheap to create and can add beauty to your home for many years. Again, with there being no strict regulations on the type and height of hedge you can have, you have tens of options if not hundreds to choose from. This is not to say that you have the freedom to plant and remove any kind of plant on your hedge.
Some trees and plants are protected by tree preservation orders which imply that you cannot prune or cut them at self-will.
The local council may impose specific regulations on the planting and removal of hedges. Still, you will have the right to plant a hedge and the obligation to maintain it after that.
In you are unsure about restrictions on the types of plants you can grow in your garden, whether it is hedge plants, trees or flowers, consult your local authority.
How High Can A Hedge Be?
A high hedge is considered to be above 2 metres high or 6.5 feet tall, and a hedge can be defined as a line of two or more plants. Your local authority may have other definitions of a high hedge; if in doubt consult with them.
Where possible, you should not let your hedge grow above this height as this may affect adjacent gardens. What’s more, pruning hedges over two metres in height may be somewhat problematic, and this is not what you need. A right hedge height should allow you to prune the top without taking too much time and effort.
I prefer keeping my hedge between one and a half and two meters since I can easily reach the tops without using a platform.
Four Steps To Avoiding Hedge Wars With Your Neighbours
- Choose The Right Hedge
- Keep The Hedge In Good Shape
- Maintain A Good Relationship
- Let Your Neighbours Trim Their Side Of The Hedge
Choose The Right Hedge
Choosing the right type of hedge is perhaps the best way to stay away from hedge wars, but the definition of the right hedge varies from person to person. Generally, the right hedge should have a manageable growth rate which gets along with your schedule if you will be personally responsible for maintaining it. A hedge with a high growth rate will need frequent trimming, which can be tedious and annoying some times.
I’ve put together a post about choosing a good hedge plant which might help you get started.
Keep The Hedge In Good Shape
As I previously mentioned, maintaining a tree or hedge remains your obligation as long as it stands in your garden or on your boundary line. To ensure you do not get into quarrels with your neighbours about the hedge, you should trim it as frequently as its growth rate demands. If you’re not sure when to trim a hedge, I’ve got your back!
Note that if you plant a hedge on a boundary, it will remain your duty to trim the top and both sides of the hedge. However, your neighbour can trim branches and roots that extend to their property.
Maintain A Good Relationship
Conflicts and misunderstandings with your neighbours about property are sometimes inevitable, and that’s before you borrow their secateurs! However, with the right mindset, you can avoid the larger part and keep the peace.
One way is to ensure you are in communication with your neighbours, and that each party understands the other. This is just good practice anyway and I’m sure that Amazon deliveries and similar issues with begin the bonds that can form into a healthy relationship at least.
It is worth making that effort as it means you will be open to one another about issues affecting you or your boundaries, including that hedge you want to plant. It is also essential to consider your neighbour’s point of view concerning the hedge if you have not already planted it. Have discussions with them in the early stages and it might be that you’ll reach a consensus in which you choose something more colourful to brighten up your border.
Let Your Neighbours Trim Their Side Of The Hedge
If you have a hedge on the boundary between two properties, it is against the law to trim the side on your neighbour’s property without consent.
You don’t want to burden your neighbours with additional garden maintenance, but most of them will appreciate it if you raised the idea of joint maintenance of the hedge. It is not that difficult to collaborate and agree on how to trim the hedge if it is on the property boundary. If you have a neighbour who isn’t a fan of horticulture, you may find they appreciate your adoption of this particular workload, however be sure to get their agreement, lest they accuse you of property damage after a hard pruning session.
Resolving Neighbour Hedge Disputes
If your hedges overgrow into your neighbour’s property or grow taller than two meters, they may ask you to trim it. If you don’t fulfil their request, they are entitled to file a complaint with the local authorities for further action.
The short answer is to act upon their request as soon as possible. If you have the power to dissolve the issue with some simple hedgerow maintenance, just do it. I have a guide on how to trim a hedge that can help you, and if you are concerned about the expense, I’ve got a guide to budget hedge trimming tools that will save you time and money.
What About If You Are Affected By A Neighbour’s Hedge?
If this happens, the first thing that should come to your mind should be communication. Even before filing a complaint, you should talk to the owner of the hedge expressing your dissatisfaction with the situation. After all, you may have to live together for the rest of your lives, and creating grudges is the last thing any of you should be doing.
If you are in good terms, it may be appropriate to invite them over to your place so they can get a clear picture of your problem. Otherwise, you may want to write a letter requesting them to consider trimming the hedge. In the latter case, you can personally deliver the letter to them or use a third party.
A complaint about hedges will only be acceptable to the local authorities if negotiation and mediation have failed. Make sure that you have taken documented steps to resolving the situation before you involve the authorities.
You must have sufficient evidence that the hedge has affected your property. Complaints based on future events and on assumptions may not merit further investigation from the Council so ensure you have photographic proof of your existing concerns.
Further, there is no guarantee your Local Authority will order the immediate trimming or removal of the hedge. Even if they ruled in your favour, the hedge would not be permanently removed or cut down to die. This simply means you could destroy your neighbourly friendship and still not get the hedge removed. To avoid this, it is advisable first to try negotiation and mediation to which many reasonable neighbours will agree.
Again, if you have the ability to trim the hedge, this may prove a useful tool in negotiating to achieve the freedom from foliage that you desire.
How Close To A Boundary Can I Plant A Hedge?
A garden hedge can be planted any distance from the property boundary, however some communities have property deeds that may restrict or regulate the planting of hedges on or near the boundary.
Where this is not the case, you will only need to agree with your neighbour–so long as there are no boundary disputes. Each of you can then take responsibility for their side of the hedge. With this arrangement, there are zero chances you will have hedge wars.
In situations where you cannot agree with your neighbour to jointly plant a hedge on your property boundary, it is prudent to leave a gap of at least two to three feet between the boundary and your hedge.
Can I Replace A Hedge With A Fence?
You can replace a hedge with a fence if you are seeking to minimise ongoing maintenance, however be aware that you will be affecting the lives of birds and other animals that depend on the hedge for shelter and food.
I’ve got a guide to the wildlife that is in your hedge, and you may find there’s great pleasure to be found in protecting your local ecosystem.
How Close To A Building Can I Plant A Hedge?
For hedge plants, a minimum distance of three metres is enough to give plant room to grow without damaging property. If you want to plant a tree near a building, allow at least five metres.
Unlike trees, hedges do not have a high water intake, something that may put your house at risk. Given that a hedge will host birds and wild animals, it is necessary to keep a reasonable distance between the house and the hedge. This will also give you room to trim or prune all the sides of the plant as needed.