We all like to keep on top of our gardens, even if the maintenance is often time-consuming and can sometimes feel like a workout.

But as we strive to create a space that feels like an extension of the inside of our own home, you may notice parts of your neighbour's garden getting in the way.

When it comes to knowing the law about how far you can go to snap an intrusive branch or trimming a neighbour's hedge, this is what you should be aware of.

Is it criminal damage to cut a neighbour's hedge?

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“The Criminal Damage Act 1971 provides that unless you have a lawful excuse, intentionally or recklessly causing damage to ‘any property belonging to another’ amounts to a criminal offence. That includes a hedge,” states BLB Solicitors.

Therefore, it's only lawful to prune the branches of your neighbour’s hedge if it’s projecting into your garden and causing a bit of bother.

But you must not retrieve or disturb anything further than the point where the branches cross the boundary of your property.

The UK government website adds: “You can trim branches or roots that cross into your property from a neighbour’s property or a public road.

“You can only trim up to the property boundary. If you do more than this, your neighbour could take you to court for damaging their property.

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“If you live in a conservation area, or the trees in the hedge are protected by a ‘tree preservation order’, you might need your council’s permission to trim them.”

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When to report a neighbour to the council for their hedges, trees and boundaries

Hedges, trees and boundaries can often cause disputes between neighbours but the government says you must try to resolve this on your own before the council can get involved.

However, you can ask your local authority for a complaint form if the hedge is all of these listed below:

  • two or more mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs
  • over two metres tall
  • affecting your enjoyment of your home or garden because it’s too tall

It should be noted you might have to pay the council a fee to consider your complaint.

You can find more information about resolving neighbour disputes when it comes to gardens and hedges on the government website.