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Help - our new neighbour has wrecked our shared hedge

We had a lovely hedge between ourselves and our neighbour. It is about 70 years old, filled with wildlife and made up of hawthorn, box and other plants. For 15 years, we have had the hedge and it has flourished. Our neighbour was happy. We were happy.

A new neighbour moved in two years ago and recently came to our door and angrily told me that we were nuisance neighbours. He claimed the hedge, which was about 10ft, was blocking his light and said that he had spoken to the Local Authority and that they had agreed and, he said, there were laws against this. He gave me an official-looking leaflet about Leylandi hedges and told me I had to reduce the hedge to 6 feet. 

To cut a long story short, although we knew what he said wasn't true, we didn't want to fall out with them. We agreed to reduce the height of the hedge, even though a local tree surgeon told us and our neighbour it would make no difference to the light in their house. They actually have several large Leylandi in their own garden which affect the light far more.

I was out when the tree surgeon came this morning and, directed by our neighbour, he cut more than half the length of the hedge to 6ft tall and left the other half at 10ft. It looks terrible. I am just devastated. I couldn't speak to the tree surgeon when I returned. He said the neighbour had bullied him and stood behind him, trying to get him to cut it even lower. What can I do?

Should we fill the space with a free standing trellis? Should we buy a mature tree and plant it in front of the hedge? Should we leave it to grow back?   

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  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 7,502
    You know it's only a hedge if you trim it into a hedge right? Otherwise it's just a line of overgrown bushes. I'm not really seeing the problem, apart from your neighbour's poor attitude. A 6' hedge is a pretty tall boundary to have between properties and large enough to support all kinds of wildlife. Going by the line of shadows it was blocking a lot of sun from the neighbour's garden so they probably weren't unjustified in complaining.
    A great library has something in it to offend everybody.
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 6,979
    I know you're upset at the moment and your neighbour has been very heavy handed - but I would definitely say not to panic - all hedges which have been cut back hard look dreadful until growth starts again in spring.
    If the hedge contains box and hawthorn those will both respond really well to a hard cut back - especially the hawthorn - and you will probably find that you have a denser, thicker hedge in the future. The hawthorn will easily put on 3 - 4 feet of growth next year...
    Personally I would now get the whole hedge cut to tidy it up (it doesn't all have to be as low as 6').
    If you particularly like the look of a much more informal big hedge you can probably get away with not cutting it again for a few years.
    I certainly wouldn't rush into planting trees and putting up trellis - there's no need - the hedge will grow back. Just get out there and tidy up in front of it and wait until spring.

    BTW - I hope your neighbour is paying towards the hedge cutting if he thinks he has the right to tell the tree surgeon (engaged by you?)  how to do his job... Just saying....
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • p2editorialp2editorial sussex Posts: 26

    Thank you for your kind comment. The neighbour reluctantly agreed to pay towards the cost!

  • RubytooRubytoo On the sofa, Southerly aspect.Posts: 1,287
    If that is their Leylandii in the background, you have to laugh. Your neighbour should read their leaflet.
    Hope you feel better soon.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,579
    edited November 2018
    It's a living hedge.  It will regrow and probably be more dense.   Don't panic.  Be patient and you will have the last laugh.

    Let the tree surgeon know he's a wimp and has lost you as a customer.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • p2editorialp2editorial sussex Posts: 26

    Thanks for both your comments. I will be patient, it was just such a shock to see a lovely hedge hacked to pieces. It was here long before the neighbour's house was built.

    We got on famously with our previous neighbour, who really liked it. Until recently, I had no idea the new neighbour had a problem. It really doesn't affect him at all. There are no windows on this side of his house.


  • i'd level it off at 6 foot, it will put 2-3 foot on next year no problem, better to have a short even hedge than a half and half hedge,
    then keep it trimmed at 8 foot, the more you cut, the thicker it'll become and the less you'll be able to see your horrible neighbour
  • p2editorialp2editorial sussex Posts: 26
    Thanks, it's probably the best idea, although it will be the third cut in a month and yet more expense!
  • WaysideWayside Posts: 807
    edited November 2018
    Young hawthorn growth is beautiful.  I have a wild tree hedge between ours and the neighbours, and they were moaning about light levels, and as I'm an agreeable person, I took down some buddleia in height, and thinned out some others.  I then was told they had lost their privacy.  So sometimes it's a loose loose.  I did take the trees; ahem; I mean hedge down to about 6ft, but as they were established, they have bounced back to double that.  In fact if anything, I wish I'd gone lower.  Our gardens are narrow, so hedges are a bit more difficult.  I did chuckle to myself, as the neighbour said that small gardens are not fit for normal sized trees.  Half way up theirs, they have at least a 30ft sycamore that branches completely across my garden, and is the largest tree on the terrace.  Not to mention it completely blocks my view of the setting summer sun, over a lovely beech copse.  Damn neighbours!

    I sometimes think it would be better for all to have no mans land between properties and gardens just for the psychological benefit.

    Gardens looks so nice at the end of summer, even if they are getting a bit wayward, I like the unkempt growth, and I find it really shocking when the strimmers come out.  I'm not even so sure that it's a good time of the year to do so, if there won't be growth all winter.  At least if cut pre-spring the baldness isn't that long lasting.
  • granmagranma Posts: 1,922
    If  you asked your neighbours for half the cost each time it is trimmed back as it was  on there complaints about the hedge  ( and your only doing what they requested.!! )
    maybe they will soon agree to leaving it as it was.A :)
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