Resolving neighbour disputes

6. High hedges, trees and boundaries

You must try to settle a dispute about a high hedge informally before the council can intervene.

Ask your council for a complaint form if the hedge is all of these:

  • 2 or more mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs
  • over 2 metres tall
  • affecting your enjoyment of your home or garden because it’s too tall

You might have to pay the council a fee to consider your complaint.

Read more about complaining to your council about a high hedge.

When you can trim hedges or trees

You can trim branches or roots that cross into your property from a neighbour’s property or a public road.

You can only trim up to the property boundary. If you do more than this, your neighbour could take you to court for damaging their property.

If you live in a conservation area, or the trees in the hedge are protected by a ‘tree preservation order’, you might need your council’s permission to trim them.

If your property borders a road

The highways authority can ask you to cut back hedges or trees on your property if they’re causing an obstruction in the road. If you refuse, they can go into your property without your permission to do the work themselves. They may charge you for this.

Property damage from hedges

Your neighbour is responsible for maintaining their hedges so they don’t, for example, damage your property or grow too high. If they do damage your property, your neighbour may be liable.

Boundaries and shared (‘party’) walls

Disputes about what is the exact boundary between 2 properties can be difficult to solve so get legal advice.

You must give notice to your neighbour if you are going to do work on a shared (‘party’) wall.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has free advice on boundary disputes and party walls (the walls you share with your neighbours).