Hedges are subject to rules and regulations just like anything else. Care must be taken when trimming or cutting a hedge because they are home to wild birds and animals. One must also respect the hedge as a boundary between properties as more than one party will be responsible for its upkeep.
Birds and Wildlife
We take great care & attention when it comes to any birds nesting. Plus, if necessary, we leave any areas of concern and come back later to complete the job. In order to lessen the impact of hedge cutting activities on wild birds and other wildlife, the law dictates that you do not cut or trim your hedge while birds are nesting. Doing so can harm nesting birds and their chicks that call the hedge their home. But not all hedges have nesting birds in them. If we know there is a nest in a hedge and we will not intentionally proceed with cutting and trimming and will return after the chicks have fledged the nest. Regardless of ownership, neither you or your neighbour can trim or cut a hedge if the action damages active birds’ nests, and hence violates the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Disputes with neighbours often relate to how each side of the hedge is maintained and about cutting the hedge, particularly during the bird breeding season.
A boundary hedge is usually the joint responsibility of both neighbours. Both must agree on major work, including removal, coppicing or laying.
In theory, you need your neighbours’ agreement even before trimming the hedge. If the hedge is inside your neighbours’ garden, they own it. You only have the right to trim any part which encroaches over your boundary line. Your neighbour should ask for your permission for access to trim the hedge on your property.
If tall hedges or trees put your garden in the shade, you can cut off branches which overhang your boundary.
You can also prune back roots that invade your property, even if this is detrimental to the plant. You do not have the right to cut down vegetation on your neighbours’ property, or apply weedkiller to destroy the plants.
Read more at Hedge Law | The Law and Garden Hedges – The RSPB