Trees, Boundary Fences and the Law

Trees, Boundary Fences and the Law

Posted on Posted in Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

My neighbour's hedge and a tree within it are both encroaching into my garden over our boundary fence. Before I take matters into my own hands and have the offending growth cut back, am I safe to instigate this or is it seen as interfering with someone else's property? I've dropped several hints in the hope they would sort it but nothing's happened

Ah yes, party hedges - the bane of many a law abiding citizen's life! Put simply, the hedge and tree in this case are, of course, the property of your neighbour. However, any branches or growth that encroaches on your air space i.e. growth that is definitely in your garden (hanging over the boundary fence), you have the right to trim back to the fence, particularly if you've taken every opportunity to request your neighbour trims the hedge and tree back from your land and nothing's been done. Trim beyond the fence, however, and you would be trespassing in the eyes of the law.

Amusingly, as the tree and hedge is not yours you must return the material you have removed to your neighbour! However, to prevent a punch up and to avoid being told precisely where to put it you may consider suggesting you will dispose of it yourself. In which case, if you use a tree surgeon to do the cutting back, make sure they are reputable and will take the arisings to a green waste recycling facility for composting.

Whilst I would always advocate negotiating in a friendly way to either get your neighbour to sort out the hedge or get approval from him/her so that you can arrange the trimming back, in instances where friendly relations are not in place you could always mention the fact that you would be within your rights to sue for trespass, nuisance or, in the case of a dangerous overhanging limb, negligence if they fail to act or allow you to do so!
Hedges and trees have been going through quite a growth spurt in recent weeks, thanks in part to the damp conditions. If they need cutting back any reputable tree surgeon will confirm that the 'closed' season for hedge trimming, when birds could still be nesting i.e. March to the end of July, is now over and you can safely call in the experts to take your hedges back down to a manageable level.

Reputable tree surgeons will be members of either BALI - the British Association of Landscape Industries (, or the Arboricultural Association ( And if they say they are, check they're being truthful by contacting the trade bodies in question.

Call or email Wiltshire based Bawden Tree Care now to discuss your tree surgery requirements, make an appointment for one of the team to visit, or just get some general advice.  Please remember we are here to help and all our quotations are free and without obligation.  Bawden Tree Care is an 'Approved Contractor' with the Arboricultural Association so you can be assured that you are being given a professional service at a fair price.