Keep Your Foliage to Yourself

Your garden can be your pride and joy with a wealth of trees, hedges, shrubs and seasonal blooms, or it can be functional as a place to hang the washing, park the car and use to relax or get some fresh air.

The professional of Arboriculture covers these circumstances and most areas relating to tree surveys, safety, condition, and mortgage reports.

Obstructing the Highway

If your house bounds a highway footpath or road that is used by the public, you have a duty to ensure that access is unimpeded from anything on your property including vegetation.

Trees, shrubs and trailing plants such as brambles can grow to fill the space in which they were intended, and also to grow over the property boundary. They can inadvertently snag clothing, impede access and causes scratches to skin.

The Highways Act 1980 (as amended) Section 154, relates to your duty as a land owner to ensure that highways are free and clear of obstructions from vegetation. This is known as ‘negating a nuisance.’

Strictly speaking you could be liable for any damages to a third party in this manner.

To avoid any issues, it is recommended that the vegetation is kept clear:

·         A footpath should be clear to a height of between 2.2 metres to 3 metres

·         A road should be clear to a height of 5 metres, ensuring passage of tall vehicles such as refuse lorries

·         All vegetation does not extend past your boundary line in width from ground level and up to these heights.

These heights and widths enable the majority of users to travel along the highway in an unimpeded manner.

If your vegetation severely overhangs or if a member of the public complains about it, you may be contacted in writing by the Local Authority with instructions to prune the foliage back to your boundary line and in accordance with the above recommendations. If you fail to comply, they may undertake the works and give you the bill.

Vegetation that touches built structures

Contact by foliage with roof tiles, guttering and walls can cause minor damage, and it is wise to prune the vegetation to allow for adequate clearance between them.

If your tree is protected with a Tree Preservation Order or lies within a Conservation Area, the Local Planning Authority will be required prior to any works being carried out.

By noting and acting upon these guidelines you can ensure that your trees, shrubs and anything else that is green and growing continues to provide enjoyment to your garden.

It is well worth appointing a professional for significant works to trees; if you specify all works be carried out in accordance with British Standard 3998:2010 Tree Works – Recommendations, then you can rest assured that the works will not result in excessive regrowth or other issues in the future.

Refer to Choosing the right tree surgeon for further guidance.

About Jennifer Reed