10 Ways You’re Probably Breaking The Law in Your Garden

Your green haven should be a source of joy rather than an unexpected legal entanglement. However, reports claimed that a number of UK gardeners, perhaps even you, could be at risk of breaking the law. For one, due to property line ambiguities, e.g. a greenhouse or shed distance from fence of your neighbour.

That’s what this guide is here for! In the following sections, we’ll unveil the ten most important bits of advice. These will ensure to help wield your gardening gloves with confidence.

Read on and get equipped to nurture your garden while ensuring harmony with the law!

10 Little-Known Gardening Laws

Our list covers everything from common issues like:

  • Overhanging branches
  • Boundary disputes
  • Blocking sunlight
  • What to do with fallen fruit

Yet, our exploration doesn’t stop at the familiar. Prepare to learn the regulations — similar to planning permission for garden structures. Fut fear not if you’ve remained oblivious to some of these ins and outs. Browse through for a deeper understanding!

1. Trimming overhanging branches

Support the branches of a tree extending into your property from your neighbour’s garden. In such cases, you have the right to trim them using a Long Reach Petrol Pruner Chainsaw (52cc). However, this pruning is confined to your property’s boundaries. Any cuts must not exceed this line.

Also, make sure not to cross into your neighbour’s garden space while performing this task. Engaging in such action could legally be classified as trespassing!

What happens when a tree enjoys the protection of a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)? Considering the local council enforces it, you may be unable to do branch trimming.

Note: Trespassing could result in a sentence of up to three months of imprisonment or a fine.

Man pruning trees at the top of a ladder
Credit: Flickr

2. Gardeners – keep your fruit and flowers

If the tree branches remain the property of your neighbour, pruning them that extend into yours is a no-no. The same goes for any blossoms or fruits that grace these trimmings. Remarkably, they possess a legal entitlement to request their return.

But this doesn’t also permit you to cast these over your fence simply. Such an act could potentially be categorised as fly-tipping. An unexpected twist, isn’t it?

Fly-tipping could result in a substantial penalty of up to £50,000 in fines. Even worse, a prison sentence lasting up to 12 months. To avoid any of these, consider a neighbourly approach. And that is to return the fruits of your pruning labour to their rightful owner.

‘But what if their fruit comes into my garden naturally?’ we hear you say.

3. Windfalls

Enter windfalls – those ripe offerings that gracefully detach from branches during gusty moments. The question of ownership emerges: who lays claim to these bounties? Technically, they remain the property of their respective owners. Therefore, if the wind sees fit to deposit your neighbour’s windfalls onto your lawn, they can get them back.

Alternatively, consider a different approach, such as seeking permission to keep them. This simple gesture could even foster a new neighbourly relationship.

Windfall Basket of Apples on a table

4. Issues with fallen leaves

Here’s a twist: while you hold responsibility for your neighbour’s fruit, fallen leaves follow a different course! Simply put, they’re not responsible for sweeping up fallen leaves!

That means any windfalls on your property, e.g. your shed sleeper decking, are now yours to clear up. That might make you think about which direction your garden faces!

And don’t get into the trap of thinking that you can just chuck them back over the fence, either! You’ll have to add this to your list of gardening jobs.

5. Trees blocking natural light

Now, this is where it gets a bit tricky.

The long-standing owner of a building with windows has a right to maintain its level of illumination. So 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 neighbours light. So keep up with the pruning! Changes made to developments could cost you thousands of pounds for being un-neighbourly!

Silhouette of two men pointing and arguing
Credit: Pixabay

6. Boundary dispute and fences

Boundary and fence disputes can be tricky to resolve. 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, you may need to contact HM Land Registry for help.

7. Hedges

Speaking of boundaries, if a hedge grows along the boundary between two gardens, both neighbours are responsible for trimming it. But if a hedge belonging to a neighbour grows into your garden, remember: you can trim it, but youll have to return the trimmings!

BillyOh Tianna Log Cabin With Side Store
BillyOh Tianna Log Cabin With Side Store

8. Building on land without planning permission

If you plan to add a garden building to your piece of land, you might want to check whether or not you’ll need permission. A cost-effective way to avoid applying for planning permission is to ensure your building is:

  • Single storey.
  • No taller than a maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres.
  • Not intended for permanent residential use.
  • Not taller than 4m at the ridge for a dual-pitched (apex) roof.
  • No taller than 3m at the highest point for a pent roof.
  • No larger than 50% of your garden.
  • Not build past the foremost wall of your house.


Here at Garden Buildings Direct, all of our garden buildings, from log cabins to garden sheds and summerhouses, are all built with these height requirements in mind.

So you can shop with confidence that you won’t need planning permission. We even offer a range of building sizes to ensure your garden building won’t take up more than 50% of your garden!


9. Hot tubs and BBQ smoke

What’s better than an inflatable hot tub in your back garden? A place to socialise or just relax after a hard day. Even a great place to take a dip after a barbecue. However, the noise and smoke they create can be a nuisance for neighbours.

A great solution would be using a chiminea instead. Keep smoke at a minimum without missing out on the atmosphere!


10. Trampolines and privacy

Who would’ve thought that where you place your trampoline could cause legal issues! Try to avoid placing it anywhere that kids (or even adults!) can bounce and see into a neighbour’s garden or house. This would actually affect their right to privacy!


Well, there you have it. Who knew that we’d all been be flying in the face of the law every time we did a bit of pruning?

Well, there you have it! Who knew that we’d all be flying in the face of the law every time we did a bit of pruning? While you’re unlikely to get sent down for life, at least now you can be a more conscientious gardener and neighbour!

To find a space for all those gardening tools, including your hose pipe, check out our range of storage sheds. Then, feel free to read our guide to gardening tools and their uses to simplify your growing journey.

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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.


Not if they've given you permission to do so, obviously. But like with trimming overhanging branches, any gardening done that's not on your property could constitute trespassing. If the problem gets out of control, you can always report it to the Environmental Health Department who can pursue legal action.