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What are the laws surrounding trees on my property?


Trees and the Law

When you’re looking to plant, fell, or prune trees on your property, there is often legislation determining what you may or may not do. This could leave you wondering, “what are the laws surrounding trees on my property?” Many neighbourly disputes are regarding the wrongful felling or pruning of trees, with homeowners unsure of the laws when it comes to maintaining your own garden when surrounding trees encroach on your space.

To ensure you are always within the law, and to avoid any neighbourly disputes, we’ve outlined the main laws surrounding trees on your property as a guide for when you need tree services.

Who owns the tree? Can I cut trees down on my property?

A tree belongs to whoever’s land it has originally grown from, even if branches or roots have begun to encroach on a neighbours property.

Theft Act 1968

The Theft Act makes it a criminal offence to pick fruit, flowers or even branches from a tree that is not on your property. Of course, many homeowners will not have to worry about measures being taken to this extreme, but if you cut down a neighbour’s branches or take fruit/flowers from their trees, they are legally entitled to ask you to return them.

Planning Permission

Many trees are protected by tree preservation orders, which is an order made by local planning authorities to protect specific trees. If a tree is protected by a preservation order you may not to the following:

  • Cutting down
  • Topping
  • Lopping
  • Uprooting
  • Wilful damage or destruction

To do any of the above, you must obtain the local planning authority’s consent.

However, planning permission is not normally required to plant a hedge in your garden, and there are no laws regarding the height of your hedge. If you do have hedges in your property boundaries, you are responsible for ensuring your hedge is not a nuisance to anyone else.

Building regulations

There are not normally any building regulations applied to trees or hedges, however, foundation can be affected by tree roots and moist soil, so these factors should be considered when it comes to building new structures or planting trees.

Overhanging branches and tree roots

You are able to cut the branches of a neighbour’s tree back to the boundary point between your properties provided the tree is not under a preservation order. However, under the Theft Act mentioned above, if the tree’s owner requests you return the branches or foliage, you are obliged to do so.

You are also allowed to dig up and remove any roots that have begun to grown onto your land – a tree surgeon can help ensure this job is done properly and safely.

The Rights of Light Act 1959

Under this act, if your property has received daylight for the last 20 years, you are entitled to continue receiving that light. Therefore, if your property’s trees begin to block your neighbour’s light, or vice versa, you are able to apply to the courts to have your daylight restored by the trees being pruned.

Here at Artemis Tree Services we provide a wide range of tree services to Hertfordshire and the surrounding areas. We’ll arrange a free site visit from our professional tree surgeons to carry out an assessment at a convenient time and date to discuss your requirements.
For more information or to book your site visit, simply get in touch with our team today and we’ll be happy to help you.


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