Perhaps surprisingly, there are various, some might say quirky rules that need to be obeyed, so to keep things smooth in the neighbourhood, here are 8 garden rules to be mindful of:
Branch trimming: if tree branches from a neighbour’s garden overhang into your property you can trim them, but only up to the property line. If you lean into the neighbour’s garden to do this, it actually constitutes trespass. Also, if a tree is covered by a Tree Preservation Order you can’t cut the branches, so you need to find this out before going ahead with the saw.
Keeping branches: having cut any branches that hang into your garden, you must remember that technically, they still belong to your neighbour – as do any flowers or fruit on them. Legally, your neighbour is entitled to ask for them back, so you shouldn’t just keep them. But be careful – you can’t don’t just throw them back into their garden either, as this could constitute garden waste fly-tipping. This also apply to hedges. Both neighbours are responsible for trimming a boundary hedge, and if a neighbour’s hedge grows into your garden you can trim it, but you must return the trimmings to the owner.
Keeping wind-fallen fruit: technically windfalls fruit still belongs to the person who owns the tree. So, if your neighbour’s windfalls land in your garden, ask permission before you use them.
Planting new trees: under the Rights of Light Act, if a window has been getting natural light for 20 years or more, it can’t be blocked with a new tree. So, do your research before you plant a new tree in your garden.
Trampolines: your neighbour’s privacy rights will be affected if you place a trampoline anywhere that enables you to see into neighbours’ gardens or houses, so be careful where you position it.
Fences and boundaries: interestingly, there’s no legal responsibility to keep boundaries well maintained unless your deeds state otherwise, though they should indicate who owns fences and who is responsible for the boundaries. However, as boundaries can move over time it can lead to disputes. If this is the case, you may need to contact HM Land Registry.
Hot tubs: though increasingly popular, beware that the luxury of an outdoor hot tub doesn’t constitute a noise nuisance for neighbours. It would be sensible to check with them, before going ahead, that they’re happy for you to have one installed.
Smoke: obviously, smoke can also be a nuisance to your neighbours, especially if their washing is out. It could even mean that you are breaking the law. So, much as we all love a barbecue or a chimenea, try to position it so that smoke isn’t drifting into your neighbour’s garden.