‘They’re legally entitled!’ Eight garden laws you might be breaking with fines of £50,000

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From cutting overhanging branches to blocking sunlight, thousands of Britons could be breaking basic gardening laws due to a lack of knowledge, experts have claimed. A spokesperson for GardenBuildingDirect.com said: “Most of us want to be good, law-abiding neighbours, but that can be difficult if we don’t actually know what the law is. There may be times when it would be within your legal rights to do something, but it could cause tensions with your neighbour. We’d always advise trying to come to a neighbourly solution first, as this is always preferable to having to call in the lawyers.

“If you brush up on the law as it stands, you may be able to avoid any sort of dispute altogether, which is always the ideal solution.”

While gardening might seem the most innocent of pursuits, there are a few factors which could land you on the wrong side of the law. Take a look at some of the garden laws you might not know you’re breaking.

Trimming overhanging branches

When it comes to trimming overhanging branches, only cut them up to the property line.

According to GardenBuildingsDirect, you can’t lean into your neighbour’s garden to do this as this can be considered as trespassing.

As well as this, it’s important to remember that if a tree is covered by a Tree Preservation Order, you can’t cut the branches, so always speak to your neighbour first.

Fruit trees and flowers

While you are still able to cut branches that hang in your garden, these plants, flowers and fruits still belong to your neighbour.

The experts said: “This means that any flowers and fruits on trimmings also belong to them.

“Plus, they don’t just have to rely on your goodwill – they’re legally entitled to ask for them back.”

Remember not to throw them into your neighbour’s garden, too, as this could be classed as garden waste fly tipping.

Britons could receive a maximum fine of £50,000 and/or a 12-month prison sentence, according to the pros.

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Windfalls

Picking up an apple off the ground may seem innocent enough, but did you know that it could cause a dispute with your neighbour?

“Windfallen fruit technically still belongs to the person who owns the tree. So, if your neighbour’s windfalls end up on your lawn, ask for permission if you want to keep them,” GardenBuildingsDirect advised.

Fallen leaves

Trees add structure and beauty to a garden, but did you know that tree owners are not responsible for sweeping up fallen leaves if they end up in your garden? No matter how many leaves fall, you’ll have to tidy these up yourself.

The experts warned: “Don’t get into the trap of thinking that you can just chuck them back over the fence either. You’ll have to just add this to your list of gardening jobs.”

Tree blocking natural light

Under the Rights of Light Act, if a window has received natural light for 20 years or more, neighbours can’t block it with a new tree.

This may also have implications for tree growths that begin to infringe on your neighbour’s light, so keep up with the pruning.

If gardeners did want to plant a new tree, consider placing it in a new corner of the garden or opting for something smaller.

Fences and boundaries

Boundary and fence disputes can be “tricky” to resolve, say the experts.

They explained: “Your house deeds should indicate who owns which fences and who’s responsible for boundaries.

“However, there’s no legal responsibility to keep boundaries well maintained. Unless, of course, your actual deeds outline that.

“The problem is, boundaries can move over time and cause disputes later.”

For a boundary dispute over a legal boundary, Britons may need to contact HM Land Registry for help.

Hedges

Speaking of boundaries, if a hedge grows along the boundary between two gardens, both neighbours are responsible for trimming.

The gardening pro warned: “But if a hedge belonging to a neighbour grows into your garden, remember you can trim it but you’ll have to return the trimmings.”

Trampolines and privacy

Who would’ve thought that where you place your trampoline could cause legal issues?

Try to avoid placing them anywhere that kids can bounce and see into a neighbour’s garden or house as this would actually affect their right to privacy.

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