Hedge trimming laws: the dos and dont's

Want an immaculate-looking hedge? You may need to consider certain 'hedge laws' before breaking out the trimmer.

Whether it's legality around animal habitats or neighbourly disputes, over-eager gardening can land you in hot water with the authorities if you don't do your due diligence.

To help you navigate the legal landscape, read our handy guide, below, for all the hedge cutting rules you should be following.

Overhanging hedges

Gtech HT20 hedge trimmer cutting the top of a hedge

Alongside noise complaints and parking feuds, hedgerow squabbles can easily drive a wedge between you and your neighbours.

If the hedge separates you and your neighbour's property, it can be tricky to determine who is liable. To make sure you don't run into any disputes mid-task, pop over to your neighbour's for a friendly chat. You'll be able to informally discuss your plans - and, hopefully, avoid any hedge-related disagreements. If necessary, bring your property's deeds along so you can point out your boundary lines.

There may be situations, however, where the deed does not specify clear boundaries. In this case, rather than drawing battle lines over unclaimed land, you and your neighbour should make an informal boundary agreement. You can find out more information about the formalities at gov.uk.

With negotiations over and borders established, you can finally put your hedge trimmer to use, cutting any branches or roots that encroach on those boundaries. You need to be careful though: if you trim hedges too zealously and cut into your neighbour's side, even accidentally, you could be taken to court for damaging their property.

TOP TIP: Be extra cautious when it comes to trimming tree branches - they could be protected by a Tree Preservation Order. That means it is illegal to cut down, uproot or trim the tree, so make sure you check with the council before making any amendments.

High hedge laws

Man cutting branches with HT20 and branch cutter attachment

Neighbourly quarrels aren't just reserved for contested garden borders; even hedges which are irrefutably positioned on your premises could be a point of contention.

More specifically, this relates to the height of your hedges. For instance, if the hedge is so tall that it blocks light or obscures views for your neighbour, then you could be on the wrong side of the law.

But how tall is too tall? Well, according to the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, any hedge over two metres high could be in violation of these rules. The same legislation also allows the local council to get involved and resolve disputes, at the request of the aggrieved party.

To avoid the hassle of dealing with the council, you need a hedge trimmer that can easily reach those high branches. Enter, the Hedge Trimmer HT20. This cordless hedge trimmer combines a lightweight design with an extendable pole, so you can painlessly preen out-of-reach shrubbery (up to 10ft tall). To neaten up untidy branches, just clip in your branch cutter attachment.

TOP TIP: Regardless of height, if a neighbour's window has received natural light for at least 20 years, then it can't be obstructed - whether by new builds or overgrown hedges. For more information, check out the Rights to Light easement.

Protecting wildlife

Along with navigating neighbourhood politics, you need to check your manicuring won't disturb surrounding wildlife.

Mice, hedgehogs and toads are all common inhabitants of your garden shrubbery, so be sure to check for signs of life before turning on your hedge trimmer. Likewise, it is a criminal offence to intentionally damage or destroy a bird's nest - whether it's finished or not.

To find out if you have feathered tenants in your garden, keep an eye on your hedges over a couple of days. If you see the same type of bird hanging around, then it's likely to have built a nest.

Of course, if you're still unclear about any elements of hedge law, it's wise to talk to a legal professional. They can walk you through the specifics, step by step.

Now you know all about hedgerow regulations, you can keep your hedges looking neat without provoking the wrath of your neighbours. To lighten your outdoor chores this summer, take a look at the Gtech garden care range.