Hedges help provide practical and beautiful landscaped areas that can increase privacy, secure livestock and clearly set boundaries. What’s important to note, is that hedges require regular maintenance, not just for aesthetic purposes, but for legal reasons too.
There are various elements to consider when planting and maintaining hedges, including their height, overall size, ability to sustain life and of course when you should trim them.
Consider the height
Tall, unmaintained hedges have caused many a dispute. Therefore, if you have neighbours you should keep the height of your hedges below two metres in line with the high hedge legislation which was included in the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003: Part 8 in 2005. The legislation defines a high hedge as over two metres; a line of two or more trees or shrubs; and formed wholly or mostly from evergreens or semi-evergreens. Keeping your hedges below this height will reduce the likeliness of any arguments or issues.
If you have hedges on your land it is your responsibility to maintain them. In the case whereby you have overgrown hedges that border roads or pathways and public rights of way that could be a hazard or danger to the public, you may be requested to clear the way by the local council. In cases whereby you don’t respond to a request to trim back hedges that are deemed as an immediate threat, your local council will likely cut the hedge back and charge you a premium.
Ideally hedges should be cut back to the property boundaries and there should be a two and a half metre head clearance on footways.
Schedule in time to trim
Hedges should be trimmed once or twice a year. We recommend trimming hedges towards the end of August since cutting in the spring or summer can be detrimental to birds and wildlife. Furthermore, it’s an offence to intentionally damage or destroy a wild bird’s nest while it is being built or in use under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
The RSPB’s recommendation is to not use hedge trimmers between March and August, when the main breeding season for nesting birds occurs. However, when you decide to start cutting hedges it’s still important to also check there are no birds or other wildlife living in them before you begin trimming them back.
Be sure to set aside enough time to check hedges before you begin trimming them, and if in doubt, bring in the professionals.
Get the right equipment
Sometimes the standard hedge trimmer simply won’t cut it. Depending on the length and height of your hedges, you may want to consider getting help maintaining them.
We would usually cut Leylandii and Laurel hedges manually with petrol hedge cutters. However, we have dedicated equipment that’s able to tackle any and every hedge. We use a side arm flail mower to carry out most of our hedge cutting, mounted on our compact tractors and if a hedge is rather high or out of control we use a larger tractor or a manned cradle mounted on the front of our compact tractors.
Maintaining your hedges and boundaries doesn’t have to be a daunting task. What’s more, if you organise to have them trimmed at least once a year, you remove the chances of breaking the law, keep your neighbours happy and create a safe haven for wildlife.