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 you think any hedge or tree is causing an immediate danger, such as a fallen branch across a footway or road, phone 0300 123 5020 during working hours or outside of working hours on 0300 123 5025.
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 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.
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.
The Highways Act 1980 (Section 154) says we must protect the safety of highway users by ensuring that owners and occupiers carry out their legal duty to maintain roadside hedges and trees.
We may contact you if your hedge or tree is unsafe or causing an obstruction and you need to cut it back. We assess the risk of each situation individually and if work isn't carried out we may do it ourselves and claim back the cost from you. If you are struggling to cut back your hedge or tree you should contact us to explain why.
How we look after our roadside hedges and trees
We cut our hedges once a year, usually between October and November. We do this to minimise the impact on animals, plants and habitats. We might have to delay our work if there is bad weather.
We do not carry out routine maintenance to our trees. We inspect our trees as part of our routine inspection programme and we will only take action if our tree is dead, diseased or dying, damaging property, or blocking signs or lamp columns.
We do not remove or prune roadside trees to improve telecommunications reception, or due to leaf-fall, berries, tree sap, bird fouling or lack of light.
We do not offer a hedge trimming or tree pruning service for privately owned hedges and trees.