Whether signs of disease, decay, or unruly overgrowth, an established hedge needs constant maintenance or a landscape can quickly become unmanageable, if not unlawful. Informal hedges, including flowering ones, may require less trimming and care than formal shrubs within a property’s landscape. Renovation may the best solution to re-energise your landscape and bring it back into compliance with legalisation. With official rules regarding the height of evergreen hedges on a property, it’s advisable to renovate and care for your hedges routinely.
Overgrown hedges are, typically, difficult to maintain. When it outgrows its landscape, an untidy hedge can make your property seem less attractive. Unmanaged shrubbery, or unreasonably “high hedges”, are also problematic and can quickly create a nuisance. According to existing legislation, properties can receive costly fines for violating hedge heights. One of the best solutions for businesses and developers is to consider renovating your landscape.
Whether public or private land, or nearing your facilities, the role of landscaping can shape the perception of your property and business. Landscaping has the power to transform a landscape, making a property appear more aesthetically attractive by creating a sustainable and charming setting. Yet, if it features untidy and bothersome trees or hedges, your property’s landscape could be in direct violation of key legislation.
Nuisance hedges are defined by their height, especially where it creates shadowing on other nearby properties or those sharing a boundary.
The general conditions of hedges, especially as barriers along the edge of a property, have long been ambiguously defined. It was until the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003): Part 8 (rectified in 2005) that “high hedges” became more widely defined as a nuisance. Under the Office of the Deputy of the Prime Minister, the report on High Hedge Complaints: Prevention and Cure outlines “good design” and “planning conditions” as ideal to preventing future hedge problems.
The report identifies the hedge problem in the UK by observing how:
“Many of the problems associated with hedges occur because fast-growing plants have been used for quick results, producing hedges that are difficult to maintain and have become too large. Choosing more suitable hedging plants or finding another way of achieving the effect that is wanted can, therefore, help avoid outsize hedges and prevent future problems.”
Under government legislation, the location of an offending hedge violating the policy doesn’t have to be within a private garden. Instead, hedges can be considered nuisances if they are within a park and bordering onto a housing development, or if they are on the boundary of a commercial premise.
Landscapes, under this act, must be courteous to other properties and neighbouring developments, which is especially important for housing and other built-up communities. If hedges are oversized, a complaint can be issued where a house or flat is affected by poor landscaping conditions. Whilst complaints are more common on housing developments, where a commercial premise shares a boundary, there is a responsibility to care for the conditions of a landscape.
If hedges become oversized, and a complaint is successful, you could receive a costly fine from the council.
Even though there are reasons for having high hedges, and other tall features within a landscape, you must comply with legislation to avoid fines. It’s worth consulting an expert when you’re designing a landscape, especially if you plan on using formal or evergreen hedges as barriers for sound or pollution, or even as a privacy screen.
A tall, or high, hedge can be classified along the following criteria:
Certain plants, such as ivy, are excluded from the list, according to the law.
In supporting guidance, the UK government’s official advice in Hedge height and light loss suggests that there is no universal size for the height of a hedge. Instead, in calculating the appropriate hedge height, a landscape must be in a suitable condition so that it doesn’t negatively affect other nearby properties. This might include where a hedge becomes an inappropriate “barrier to light or access”.
As a deterrent against unreasonable complaints, the council levies a fee (£400) for creating a complaint, which is designed to dissuade fraudulent complaints. There are common myths (and some hidden truths) about property rights under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003): Part 8 legislation.
The law can be used for the following reasons:
The law cannot, however, be used in any of the following circumstances:
Many use natural features within a landscape to meaningfully support their property, whether that’s for privacy or a barrier for pollution. But with design and routine maintenance, oversized and bothersome hedges, can become a nuisance. Tall hedges can make a property less appealing, either by blocking access, or reducing sunlight, amongst other problems.
Under the Act, it’s advisable to seek out good design to help prevent and cure oversized or untidy features within your landscape. For overgrown hedges, renovation may be an ideal solution.
Hedges often regain better shape and form after being professionally renovated. This is beneficial for both housing developments, or commercial premises, especially where hedges are a key feature in your landscape.
Beach box, holly, hornbeam, and more – the different types of hedges can be shaped dramatically by the care and conditions of your landscaping. Without regular trimming, hedges risk becoming oversized and unmanageable. Yet, the care you must provide will depend on the types of plants that feature in your landscape.
During renovation works, hedges might need lighter or more dramatic reductions, depending on their conditions. It’s not always advisable to trim these yourself, as certain plants will require partial renovation, which means they should be trimmed and cared for in stages.
It’s advisable to seek expert consultation before renovating hedges on your commercial property. This is because the work required will vary between plants within your landscape. Drastic reductions are dangerous and can cause decay, so often scheduling a routine for landscaping can help prevent or cure hedge problems.
The work will depend on the type of hedge, too:
When a hedge is being reduced by more than 50% in height or width, this is considered a more dramatic reduction. Lighter trims won’t involve such a heavy reduction and are often less laborious. Heavier reductions can be risky to the health of a hedge, or shrub, so it’s always advisable to seek professional help before altering your landscape.
It’s not uncommon for heavier reductions to be phased throughout the course of three years or less. This will allow an expert landscaper time to carefully and gradually reduce the height or shape of a plant without harming it. This also means a more appealing shape can be re-introduced.
The renovation process may vary between plants. If a hedge, such as a hawthorn, is visibly thinner at the base, it may be rejuvenated through “laying”, or a means of regrowth. Regrowth is often key to professional renovation. Renovation pruning may lead to balding in areas, but that’s to enable future regrowth, and the landscape may need time and patience to properly recover.
Often times renovating is a way to rejuvenate hedges. This means if a head loses its compact shape and becomes patchy, it might be time to consider professional consultation.
In many scenarios, poor hedge health is the result of improper techniques, especially if it’s out of season. You can revive, or restore, a hedge by staging its treatment, including trimming, into a wider landscaping strategy. For larger, more complex, or creative landscapes, this process will require expert consultation.
Before carrying out any works, you’ll need to understand what’s best for your landscape, and how you can create a beneficial setting using the natural space outside your property. Yet, as legislation establishes, design and planning are key in accomplishing a sustainable landscape that works for everyone.
Evergreen hedges can quickly overgrow and become difficult to manage. This can disrupt the aesthetic of your landscape, just as much as legislation exists that determines the height of hedges. Renovation may be the most effective way to manage hedges within your landscape.
If your property, whether housing or commercial offices, features hedges, they may need renovating or caring for. At Grounds Care Group, our hedge cutting and maintenance services are professional and bespoke to help rejuvenate and care for you landscape. We can help look after the features within your landscape, helping your business look its best.
Get in touch to discuss your project our expert team today.