Jul
11
2021

8 surprising gardening laws you could accidentally break

We don’t intentionally venture into our gardens to engage in illegal activities, but we could be random criminals – according to new research.

See: Ideas for the backyard – Design ideas for your garden, regardless of size or style

A recent report * suggests that thousands of us are guilty of breaking several surprising gardening laws – from harmful weeds to fences.

To make sure we all stay on the right side of the law, we’ve rounded up tips from Guy Barter, the RHS chief gardener.

1. Weeds in neighboring gardens

We all have garden weeds, but how many of us have illegal garden weeds? The Weeds Act of 1959 states that landowners are required to eliminate all harmful weeds, including ragwort or Canadian thistle.

“Otherwise, messy neighbors will do what they want, as long as they don’t interfere with the legal definition,” says Guy.

2. Tall evergreen hedges

Surprising garden laws, large hedges in a garden

High hedges are subject to an Antisocial Code of Conduct (ASBO) which forces their owner to “reduce them to an” appropriate size “set out in several detailed official brochures”. However, Guy adds that ‘this regulation does not cover bamboo and hardwood hedges’.

If your neighbour’s hedge hangs in your property, you have permission to cut it – but the law says you should give the rest to the landowner.

3. Plant refunds

Surprising garden laws, garden with plants

“When you buy a plant, you have a reasonable amount of time to receive compensation if the plant doesn’t fail as described,” says Guys.

He continues, “For example, a wisteria is known to fail to flower for several, maybe even 10 years after planting, so if it is ordered blue and turns white a few years later, you can still legally speak and search.” a refund or a replacement. ‘

4. Right to light

Surprising garden laws, lights in the greenhouse

Can’t we go wrong with garden lights? According to Guy, we can.

“In general, you have no right to light in your garden, but there are exceptions when there are restrictions or requirements on fences or buildings, for example in your neighbour’s title deeds,” he says.

“You can get a right to light for buildings, including greenhouses or windows. If you have enjoyed light continuously for 20 years, you have a right to adequate light in the future. ‘

5. Cutting branches and roots

Surprising garden laws, large trees overflowing in a garden

See: Ideas for the country garden – Planting and landscaping to reflect your rural setting

While it is legal to cut off branches and roots that invade your neighbor’s land, Guy states that pruning “must not endanger the survival of the tree or poison the roots”.

“If it dies you may be liable for damages, and trees can be valued in thousands of pounds. Any material that is separated must be returned to your neighbor, although he or she is under no obligation to take it, ”he adds.

6. Fruit trees

Surprising garden laws, tropical orange tree

See: Ideas for the kitchen garden – easy ways to get started

Perhaps one of the surprising gardening laws is the rule about fruit trees and their products, which is covered by little-known regulations.

“If your fruit tree stretches its branches into the garden next door, the fruit will remain yours and your neighbor will not be entitled to it – unless it falls naturally when the law says it has been abandoned,” says Guy .

In addition, we shouldn’t be tempted to throw the fruit back into our neighbor’s garden, as this can be classified as “garden litter fly-tipping”.

7. Garden saunas

Garden laws

As Robbie Thompson Finnmark sauna Garden saunas are also subject to unexpected laws that often surprise buyers. “Most wood-burning saunas should be at least two meters from the border because of the length of the chimney,” explains Robbie.

“Similarly, on verandas and terrace areas, you must not rise more than 30 cm from the ground. If you are building a deck over a foot high, you need technical planning, ”he adds.

8. Fencing property

Garden laws

See: Garden fence ideas – Define the edges of your garden and create a border

The finer details of fence ownership, including what you can and can’t do, are cloudy at best. Additionally, there are some legal obligations that gardeners can stumble upon, like Leigh Barnes at Jackson’s fencing, explained.

Leigh notes that “You are not required to install a fence to indicate the border of your land unless there is a statutory or common law requirement or it is stated in the title deeds.” However, Leigh goes on to highlight the “exceptional circumstances requiring the establishment of a perimeter,” including “land with cattle.”

“The Highways Authority is also required by law to install rails and fences to keep people safe. While you are not required to do so, if you have a pet, installing a fence can help contain it within your confines and prevent possible claims for damages under animal laws or for trespassing or harassment by your neighbors. ‘

We’ll surely be taking notes on these surprising laws in these brighter months and beyond.

*Report from Garden building direct, applies to British gardens