High hedges are classed as two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs in a line and are at least two metres high. There's no law restricting the height of a hedge, but if you disagree with your neighbour over the height of a hedge then you can ask us to look into it.
For us to investigate the hedge must be:
- two or more evergreen trees or shrubs in a line
- at least two metres high
- on a residential property
Before you make a report
You will need to have tried to work with your neighbour to agree a solution before we would look into a report. You need to explain as to what the issue is, for example it:
- blocks light to the rooms of your home
- deprives you of sunshine in the winter
- the roots are damaging your property
- spreads into your garden and is affecting it
- is pushing over your fence
You need to tell your neighbour how it's affecting you, for example your garden is in the shade or it's damaging your fence and you need to replace it.
Let your neighbour know how they can resolve the problem, for example:
- the size you would like it to be
- how it will be maintained so it does not happen next time
How to make a report
We will only look into your report after you have tried to resolve it yourself and you have told your neighbour that you are going to complain to us. There is a non-refundable fee of £550. If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax support this is free of charge, you will need to provide your reference number when submitting the form.
For us to look into this you will need to provide us with:
- evidence of you trying to resolve the issue
- a drawing outlining the area
It will help if you provide as much information as you can but keep it factual. Provide copies of any recent letters, especially those sent in the last four months. It is not necessary to send copies of all correspondence with your neighbour about the hedge, particularly if the dispute is a long-running one. If you have any photos please include these.
When drawing your plan, please look at the example below and make sure that you:
- mark and name surrounding roads
- sketch in buildings, including adjoining properties
- add house numbers or names
- mark clearly the position of the hedge and how far it extends
If you are complaining about the hedge blocking light, also show on your plan:
- which way is north
- the position of windows and the name of the rooms that are affected by the hedge (for example: living room and show whether the window is located on the front, side or rear of the house)
- relevant measurements (for example size of garden, distance between the hedge and any windows affected)
All measurements must be in metres.
What happens next
Once we receive your report we will contact you within 10 working days.
There are rules you need to follow if you intend to remove a countryside hedgerow. You'll find guidance on the GOV.UK.
To remove part of a protected hedgerow you need to give us six weeks’ notice. You can do this by completing our application form. If a countryside hedgerow is being destroyed without permission report it to us. If you think someone has committed a crime relating to nesting wild birds or bats, you should ask for a wildlife crime officer to investigate by contacting Kent Police on 01622 690690.
You should refer to this advice if you are planning on planting a new hedge or gapping up an existing hedgerow.
Selecting a hedge
You must use the right species of hedge. Make sure that the plant:
- is native to the UK and the local area
- has been grown in the UK
- has been sourced in Kent
- suits the conditions found in the location and local area
By sourcing local plants you will:
- increase the chance of plant establishment
- maintain the distinct character of the local area
- help maintain the relationship between trees, hedges and the local ecosystem
Plant bare root whips that are 60 to 90 centimetres in height to increase chance of long-term establishment.
Planting a hedge
A hedgerow can be planted at any time during the winter, but it is best to plant after leaf fall. Planting when the ground is frozen or saturated with water is not recommended. You can buy stock between October and early March.
A traditional mixed hedge will:
- have a planting rate of five or six plants per metre
- be planted in a double staggered row with approximately 30 centimetres between the rows
- have each plant species planted in groups of three or four
If soil conditions are poor you can use an organic matter soil improver. Green compost or similar will be effective.
To plant your hedge successfully you should:
- dig a trench at least 50 centimetres wide that is deep enough to accommodate the roots
- loosen the soil at the base of the trench
- lay the plants on the ground
- gently tease and detangle the roots
- prune the roots if necessary
- place the roots in the trench and fill with soil
- gently firm the soil around the roots
Once the hedge has been planted you can attach protection in the form of:
- tree shelters
- spiral guards
- short 50 centimetres quills
In most cases spiral guards or quills should be used. You should also consider the risk of damage by animals.
Caring for a hedge
To help maintain the health of your hedge, you should:
- keep planting beds clear of weeds - you can hand weed or use certified herbicides
- water the hedge based on the current climate conditions
- check mulch levels annually and apply new layers if necessary
- inspect all plants throughout the season and remove any that are diseased, dead or dying
- replace any removed plants in the next planting season
Applying an organic mulch will help to:
- reduce water evaporation
- protect the plant through dry periods
- reduce competition from perennial weeds
- aid the soil structure
You should only use organic composted bark or green compost that meets BSI PAS100 standards. You will need to apply the mulch at a depth of 75 to 100 millimetres for it to be effective.