Could you be Breaking these Garden(ing) Laws?

windfall fruit

Us Brits are known for our fondness of gardening. From immaculate lawns to plump tomatoes on the vegetable plot, we tend to spend a fair few hours each year taking on the tasks our gardens demand of us – the average UK gardener will spend around 114 hours (per year) on gardening chores.

We are relatively free to do as we wish on our land though the rules governing what we legally can and can not do will gradually increase in importance the more urban (closer neighbours) we are located. A neighbouring garden to the left and right of us and also at the end of the garden can lead to many potential issues such as disputes and even legal cases taken. Most times we tend to resolve such gardening matters ourselves or a friendly chat over the fence can sort out any potential issues.

We must of course respect our local community so we should avoid initiating problems such as with noise like loud music, rowdy parties or even barking dogs – On such cases residential people can in fact contact their council directly to resolve the matter.

  • So we can start off with noise pollution, which is a can of worms as it is not a crime to make a noise in your garden from using a petrol lawn mower to having a children’s party with music, cement mixers, wind chimes and more thrown in. It will become an issue if the noise continues outside of acceptable hours which for building works will usually be between 8am and 6pm (Mon – Fri) and the rest will fall under the 11pm to 8am rule. Police can be called if the noise is substantial and causing disturbance and especially if during out of hours.
  • Building works will come with many rules and regulations and it is best to always check with your local planning department to discover what you can and can not build.

What about some lesser known laws that we should be aware of when enjoying our gardens:

  • Is what overhangs your gardens yours? From easy to pick pears to branches of trees, we undoubtedly will have something or another that overhangs from our neighbours garden to ours. For trees we are usually allowed to cut back branches that pass over the divide of property though we should take in to considering any tress which may have TPO’s (Tree Preservation Orders) on. We can not simply throw back what you cut as this could be classed as fly tipping, though what you cut is in fact the property of the neighbour so you might not be able to get rid of it – The best way is to contact the neighbour and let them know your intentions and from there you can let them know you will be getting rid of any cuttings etc. With regards to trees and leaves then it is for you to clean up even the leaves of trees that are not yours, unfortunately the rake will be calling upon you each year to carry out this chore!
  • Windfall such as fallen apples / pears on to your garden from next door. Once again we see that what comes from plants rooted next door to include any fruit that has fallen will be belong to next door and if you decide to throw back unwanted fruit back to where it came from then fly tipping hits the headlines again. Crazy right!
  • Bonfires are great fun to do in the garden, especially for the younger children to enjoy. Though there is no law dictating whether or not you can light a fire in your garden neither when or how frequently – Most times it is evenings that is seen as acceptable for bonfires (especially when no washing is likely to be hanging out on the line). You can not burn any household waste that could cause any kind of pollution or health issues for the local community. Once again, you can receive complaints from neighbours towards any excess smoke and fumes that could be a ‘statutory nuisance’. BBQ’s which will also have naked flames will be less likely to cause problems to neighbours during the day.
  • Privacy is another concern for many when enjoying their gardens. From nosey neighbours peering over fences or purposely spying from bedroom windows to trampolines or kids climbing frames, we must consider the privacy of neighbours. This would also include the likes of CCTV cameras and any sensor lighting.

The subject of rules / regs / laws of gardening in most cases can be all down to building good relations with your neighbours. Think in the way of treating them how you would want to be treated and do not be afraid to discuss in a friendly and respectful manner any pressing issues. Many times you should get a positive outcome, sometimes you may need to compromise though on a few occasions we might need to escalate things and then you should ideally research the official government website and any local information stated by your council.


Title image credit: Pixabay

Christopher Walkey

Founder of Estate Agent Networking. Internationally invited speaker on how to build online target audiences using Social Media. Writes about UK property prices, housing, politics and affordable homes.

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