Trees and hedges guidance

Last updated: 2 November 2021

Issues with a neighbour's trees or your own trees

Cutting back a neighbour’s trees which encroach over your boundary

You have a Common Law right to remove a tree that encroaches onto your property. But, you can only remove those parts of the tree that cross the boundary of your property.

You have no legal right to access, cut or remove any part of a tree that does not overhang your property.

It is best to discuss any work with your neighbour before doing any work to their tree.

The cut material should first be offered back to the neighbour. They do not have to accept and dispose of this material if they do not wish to. If they do not accept the material, it is your responsibility to dispose of it.

You must first check the tree is not protected before any work is started. You can find out if the tree or trees are protected here.

The cutting back of any trees in public spaces or parks without the council’s permission can be considered 'criminal damage'. It will be reported as such to the Police.

If a neighbour’s trees are blocking your light

In law, there is no automatic right to light. A right to light can be established under the Prescription Act 1832 if the light entering a building has been uninterrupted for at least 20 years.

An established right to light only refers to buildings and light, not to gardens and sunlight.

Concerns about the safety of a neighbour’s tree

You are advised to first raise your concerns with the owner of the tree as soon as possible. Your neighbour may not have noticed the matters which are giving you concern and may be prepared to take action to resolve it.

If it is not clear who the owner of the property is then it may be necessary to contact HM Land Registry to do a search to establish who the owner is.

In extreme cases, where you believe the tree is likely to cause imminent damage to persons or property, and you have been unsuccessful in finding or gaining cooperation with the owner, then you are advised to contact the council.

Concerns about root damage from a large tree near your house

If you are concerned about this, contact your building insurance provider for advice.

Concerns about tree roots are blocking your drains

Contact your building insurance provider for advice on roots that are blocking your drains.

Cutting roots of a protected tree that are lifting paving slabs or affecting your drive

If a tree is covered by a TPO, or if it is in a conservation area, an application or written Notice will be required before root pruning can take place.

Cutting the roots of any tree is generally ill-advised as it may affect the tree's health and stability. Contact an arboricultural consultant if you want to cut any roots greater than 25mm in diameter.

Controls on the type of tree you can plant in your garden

There are no controls on the type or number of tree(s) that can be planted in your garden. However, do consider:

  • if there is enough space for the size of the tree when it is mature?
  • are there any overhead wires or obstructions?
  • what position will the tree be in relation to your property and neighbouring properties? A new tree to the south or west may block afternoon or evening sun, whereas a tree to the north will not restrict direct light from entering the building

Responsibility of trees on the roadside

If the tree is on the adopted highway, it will be managed by Buckinghamshire Highways. To report concerns about trees on the highway you should report it via Fix My Street