Hedges can create privacy, boundaries and a fantastic garden feature, but they can also cause disputes. Issues of high hedges are a common occurrence, with neighbours falling out over the ‘right to light’ and invasive hedges growing into the wrong garden.
High hedge disputes can be easily avoided with careful planning prior to a hedge being planted and the Government website is a great source of information for all things related to the prevention and resolution of high hedge issues.
If it’s your hedge that’s the issue then this blog should help you to find the best way to go about fixing the problem, and if it’s your neighbour’s hedge that needs to be cut down to size, this blog can give you advice on the best way to approach the situation and avoid it growing into an argument.
What causes high hedge disputes?
The most common causes of hedging issues between neighbours are as follows:
Right to light
This issue arises when a hedge in a neighbouring garden grows so tall that it prevents natural light from reaching either the garden or a room in the house. There are Government guidelines in place to measure the extent to which light is being obstructed. These guidelines consider situations which may involve sunlight being constantly blocked from reaching a garden, or the need to use lights inside the house which would not otherwise be needed if the hedge was not present. Once the magnitude of the problem has been determined, the Local Council will step in and make a decision on whether the height of the hedge needs to be reduced. However, the Council will only become involved after evidence has been presented to prove considerable effort was made by all parties to rectify the problem, previous to them being contacted.
This becomes a problem when the foliage of a hedge begins to impact neighbouring gardens, often growing over a fence or, if the neighbour’s side of the hedge has not been properly maintained by the hedge owner, it can make the garden look untidy and possibly even affect the other surrounding plants. The responsibly of keeping the hedge under control falls with the hedge owner; the hedge should be pruned regularly on all sides and on top to prevent this issue occurring. As above, there should be an attempt to fix any problems with overgrown foliage directly before the Local Council are notified of the issue.
How do I prevent/solve a high hedging issue?
It’s always better to try and prevent a problem from occurring rather than trying to fix it, however, sometimes it’s not that easy.
Preventing high hedge disputes
The best way to avoid hedging issues, according to the Government, is with the correct planning, design and information. By ensuring you have all the information about the hedging species you choose, including growth rate and the level of maintenance required to keep it neat, you can avoid being surprised by a fast-growing hedge that is un-manageable. Your planning and design should ensure that your hedge is planted in a position that will not restrict the amount of sunlight that reaches your neighbours garden or cause problems with overgrowth encroaching into their garden.
Resolving high hedge disputes
Before involving any outside parties, we first and foremost recommend trying to resolve the situation in the most polite but clear way possible, regardless of whether you are issuing a complaint or receiving one. In order to keep your relationship with your neighbour as amicable as possible, it’s a good idea to speak to them directly about the problem and offer a solution to rectify it. And, if your neighbour comes to you with an issue, always try to see things from their side of the fence – it’s much easier to deal with the situation without the involvement of the Local Council. If you do find that the issue cannot be resolved in this way, then your Local Council will be happy to help as long as you can prove significant effort has been made to fix the problem before they were contacted.
There may not be laws in place to restrict the height of your hedge, or the need to apply for planning permission to plant a hedge boundary, however in order to be thought of as a good neighbour you should always take into consideration the impacts that your new hedge can have on your neighbours’ gardens before planting.