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Understanding the laws and legislation of gardening

24th October 2017 Print

Gardening is a fun hobby for all, it encourages a feel-good vibe and allows for some relaxation time. However, some activities that you do could land you in hot water. Together with Suttons, retailers of vegetable seeds, we take a look at the laws and legislations of gardening and your entitlements. 

Your boundaries 

When it comes to knowing your boundaries, it can be hard to determine if it’s you or your neighbour that’s responsible for fixing the fence and trimming the tree in the middle of your gardens. 

Generally, the upkeep of fences is not a shared cost. The rules state that if the supporting posts are on your ground, then the maintenance of the fence is down to you. If you are unsure where the boundaries of your property are, check with local authorities or in the housing plan. 

When it comes to hedges, if there is one between your gardens, it is the responsibility of both neighbours to keep it trimmed and nurtured. If it’s your neighbours hedge and it is overgrowing into your garden, you are allowed to trim it but you must return the trimmings to your neighbour as it is their property. Of course, ask for permission before you throw the trimmings back over or else you could be charged with fly tipping. 

There are some things that you may do without thinking, but you should obtain consent from your neighbour before you attach a washing line, garden hose or any plants to their wall or fence. 


When you purchase a new house, if there is a tree already in your garden, you should check to see if it is protected by a tree preservation order (TPO) to know your rights. If it is protected by a TPO, this makes it illegal to prune, uproot or lop any part of the tree. If you do this, you could face a hefty fine of up to £20,000 for each tree or twice the value of the tree’s timber (whichever is higher). If you are planning on felling or pruning a tree that is situated in a conservation area, you must give the local authority six weeks’ notice and then they will decide whether the tree needs a TPO.

According to the law, tree owners are not responsible for fallen leaves. Despite the damage that leaves may cause to drains, lawns or pathways. You cannot prosecute your neighbours for this. 

It can be annoying when your garden is blocked by a tree in your neighbour’s garden – however, there is little that can be done. If it is blocking light from entering your house or a greenhouse, you can ask the council to investigate. You may be lucky as there may be a statement in your deeds that states the tree shouldn’t block your light – if so, you may be able to take legal action. 

Weeds and pests 

Weeds are an annoyance to most gardeners, but unfortunately, they aren’t kept under control by all. If weeds from your neighbour’s garden are becoming an issue for you, it is best to approach them first and try and resolve the issue. If this is not successful, it’s possible that you can get an order served from the Department of the Environment which can prevent the weeds from spreading onto your side. 

There is a Wildlife and Countryside Act which makes it an offence to plant Japanese knotweed or allow to grow in the wild. This means that you can grow them on your own property but you must prevent them from spreading elsewhere. 

To control pests, many of us refer to pesticides. You might think that you are saving money by using something that you found in the home as a pesticide, but this could get you in trouble. One man learnt this the hard way when he scattered coffee granules in his yard to deter snails and discovered he was breaking the law. 


Many gardeners are lucky enough to have birds visit and enjoy their garden. Although you must be careful when gardening around these creatures. It is illegal to disturb an active birds nest so make sure that you check for nesting birds before trimming hedges. 

If you find bird’s eggs in your garden, under laws that are mainly targeted at egg collectors, you could face legal action if you are ever found in possession of bird’s eggs. 

Other rules to follow

There are a few other laws in place that you should be aware of:

- Be careful where you are positioning your trampoline – this could lead to privacy issues if you or your children can see into other gardens

- Be sensible if you are considering sunbathing in the nude – if your neighbours report that they are alarmed or distressed you could face legal action 

- Environmental experts have set acceptable noise levels – make yourself aware of these, if they are not complied to, a fine of £1,000 could be given