A common source of dispute between neighbours and complaints to the council is overgrown hedges, bushes or trees obscuring light, overhanging other people’s property, or obstructing the pavement or highway.

If any part of your hedge borders a pavement or footpath, it is YOUR responsibility to keep it maintained and trimmed back to the point that it doesn’t encroach over the footpath / pavement / road or obstruct or risk injury to passers by.

When to trim hedges:

August to March is often the best time to trim your hedges before the birds start to nest and while there are still no new leaves. Ideally you should then not cut hedges from March onwards until the following autumn when chicks have left the nest.

Most farmers will try not to cut hedges after March unless absolutely necessary, in order to protect hedgerow birds and other small animals.

You should ensure that the hedge does not overlap the pavement at all if possible, and make sure someone in a wheelchair or with a buggy can easily pass without the need to step into the road.

You must also ensure that your hedge does not obscure any road signs.

Please trim your hedges as high as you can and be mindful of the safety of pedestrians who might catch their face or clothes.

This is particularly difficult for wheelchair users or partially sighted people.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Hedge owners’ responsibilities (according to Surrey County Council)

It is important that owners of land next to the highway (or footpath/pavement) ensure their hedges are regularly cut back to the boundary and that trees do not overhang, causing an obstruction of roads and pavements.

This is to protect the safety of pedestrians and vehicle users.

You can report issues with a privately owned hedge

If you report an overgrown or an overhanging tree or hedge on private land, Surrey County Council will carry out an inspection. If it endangers or obstructs road and pavement users, they will contact the owner requesting that they cut it back.

If the owner does not take action

If the overgrown tree or hedge is not cut back by the owner within the council’s timescales, they may also serve them with a notice to do the work under Section 154 of the Highways Act 1980.

In some rare cases, if cutting back private hedges would disturb wild birds, the council may allow the owners to delay the work until the bird nesting season is over. This is because there are laws against disturbing wild bird nests.

Report a hedge here: https://www9.surreycc.gov.uk/HighwayIssue/whatistheissue.aspx?&code=thgw-hdg