Roadside trees and hedges
Who looks after roadside hedges and trees
Most hedges and trees overhanging public roads and footways are privately owned and the landowner must look after them.
If you are the landowner, you must make sure any hedges or trees you own do not obstruct an adopted road or footway. Hedges and trees must not cause a danger, such as making people walk into the road.
We look after some hedges and trees on public roads and footways. Highway hedges have a road or footway on both sides and highway trees are usually found on footways. We are the landowner and we are responsible for maintaining them.
When to report an issue with a roadside hedge or tree
If a hedge or tree is causing a nuisance or you think it is not being properly maintained you should contact the landowner first and ask them to cut it back. They may not be aware it is causing a problem.
If you don’t know who is responsible for a tree or hedge on the edge of your property you should check your property deeds and speak with your neighbours.
You should report an issue with a hedge or tree to us if:
Report a tree or hedge issue
- You have tried to speak to the landowner already and it hasn’t worked
- You are unsure who is responsible for maintenance
- You think we are responsible for maintaining it
If you think any hedge or tree is causing an immediate danger, such as a fallen branch across a footway or road, please contact us on 0300 123 5020.
If a landowner refuses to cut their hedge or tree and it is on private land, for example it divides their property from yours, it is a civil dispute and you may wish to seek legal advice.
How to maintain your roadside hedges and trees
You must regularly check your hedges and trees to make sure they do not pose a risk to people or property. You can be held legally responsible for any damage your hedge or tree causes. If you need advice about how to look after a tree you should speak to a qualified tree surgeon or consultant:
You must check if a tree is in a conservation area or protected by either planning permission or a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). before doing any work. It is a criminal offence to carry out works to protected trees without permission. Check your planning permission to see if any trees are protected. To find out if a tree is protected by a TPO please phone 0300 123 5014.
You do not need permission to cut back branches overhanging your property unless the tree is protected. You can cut back branches as long as you limit the work to pruning side branches back to the boundary line. You will need to return any branches you remove to the owner of the tree.
We keep the adopted highway network safe by carrying out regular safety inspections. We may contact you if your hedge or tree is unsafe or causing an obstruction and you need to cut it back.
We may cut back your hedge or tree if it is dangerous and you refuse to do it and we will charge you for the work.
How we look after our roadside hedges and trees
We cut our hedges once a year, usually in October. This means we avoid the bird nesting season, which runs from February to August. We might have to delay our work, for example if there is bad weather.
We do not carry out routine maintenance to our trees. We will only take action if our tree is dead, diseased or dying, damaging property, or blocking signs or lamp columns.
We do not offer a hedge trimming or tree pruning service for privately owned hedges and trees.