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Hedge Removal Costs and Prices

Hedge removal is the complete removal of or grubbing up and destruction of a dwarf or full-sized hedge including the roots. Some garden jobs can be quoted on a per metre or per square metre basis but removing a hedge is different as it won’t just depend on the length of the hedge but lots of other factors as well including mainly the amount of labour and machinery required to remove it. A good baseline figure to work on is £100-£150 per day for labour and then it just depends on how long it takes to remove the hedge. There will be additional costs on top of this. Prices vary from around £200 - £1,200 on average.

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What are the factors which affect the cost of hedge removal?

There are several factors which can affect the cost of removing a hedge and these include:-

  • The height of the hedge
  • The length of the hedge – a longer hedge run will simply take more time and therefore cost more
  • The maturity and age of the hedge so how well established it is and how extensive and deep the root network is
  • Access to the site for machinery and vehicles to remove waste
  • What the hedge is made from, a variety of different species may take longer to remove than one single plant
  • Is machinery necessary to remove woody shrubs or established trees within the hedge line such as mini diggers or stump grinders?
  • Whether any road closures are required if the hedge is adjacent to the highway
  • If the hedge is sitting above significant infrastructures like drains or cables
  • The carting away and disposal of the hedge, is a skip needed or is some of the material to be chipped on-site using a wood chipper?
  • What you intend to do with the area afterwards as this can dictate whether there are any remedial works necessary to leave the space in good order so the complete removal of the roots from the soil
  • Where you are located in the UK – services in London and the South East are almost always more expensive than out in the regions

 

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Why do people remove hedges?

There are lots of factors which can cause a householder to want to remove a hedge and these include:-

  • The hedge is overgrown and aesthetically unattractive
  • A hedge is blocking out light either in your property or an adjacent property or in the garden
  • The hedge is in the way of plans to re-design a front or a back garden – hedges don’t just have to be on the perimeter
  • A different form of boundary is preferred
  • The hedge is interfering with the provision of mains supplies such as a drain run or cabling
  • The garden is small and the hedge is encroaching on the available space
  • Hedges can be high-maintenance and require trimming and cutting to stay looking their best and to avoid overgrowth and there are maintenance-free alternatives

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The advantages of replacing a hedge with a fence

This is the most usual option because there are so many advantages:-

  • A fence is much lower maintenance than a hedge which requires funds for regular watering and hedge trimming costs
  • A fence is in instant boundary and a total barrier which a hedge is not always - hedges can gap at the bottom allowing pets and small children access to other people’s gardens or worse, the road
  • There is no incursion of constantly growing roots and branches, the former can affect hard surfaces like patios and driveways as well as cabling and drain runs and the latter can encroach into neighbouring gardens as well as blocking out light or causing other forms of nuisance
  • If you want to soften the effect and encourage insects and birds then fit a trellis and grow some climbing plants which give you all of the advantages of the soft, natural look of greenery without the upkeep and maintenance of an actual hedge
  • Fences are often better in small gardens as they don’t dominate and encroach as much as hedging and removing a hedge and replacing it with a fence can often create more space

How to remove a hedge

Start by establishing whether the hedge is sitting above or across any drain runs or cabling. This won’t affect the initial removal of the hedge above ground but might impact on the decision to use a mini digger to pull out the remaining stumps.

The hedge is usually first reduced in size by cutting or lopping and this exposes the structure of the main plant or plants of which the hedge is composed. The core branches and trunks are then cut down to ground level before the stumps and root balls are removed. A small hedge can be tackled by a homeowner but larger hedges usually require professional equipment and machinery to remove them in their entirety.

How do you get rid of a large hedge?

A landscape or gardening contractor can cut down the hedge using power tools until you are just left with a row of stumps. These then need to be ground out or manually removed depending on cost, preference and other factors connected to the site.

Finding a contractor to remove your hedge

A small hedge probably sits in the garden care and maintenance sector but a large, long and fully established hedge is probably within the remit of landscape contractors or tree surgeons.

  • Ask around for a personal recommendation from friends, family or work colleagues
  • Use social media to add a post to a local neighbourhood group and ask for contractors to contact you
  • Use an online platform which lets you key in your details and searches a bank of people within your postcode area who will contact you to arrange an estimate

Always get at least three quotations for the work as they can vary significantly.

Key questions to ask a contractor before you accept their quote

  • Does the price quoted include complete site clearance and disposal of all the old hedging or are there any extra charges such as skip hire which do not appear on the estimate?
  • What arrangements will they make for the disposal of the old hedge and will it be removed immediately?
  • Do they have sufficient access to the site for the machinery and vehicles required to remove the hedge?

What are the alternatives to removing a hedge?

If you don’t like the hedge but also don’t want to grub it up then you could consider topiary to change it into something fabulous and incorporate it into your garden design. Topiary is the practice of clipping shrubs and trees into ornamental shapes and your disliked hedge could be transformed into a real garden feature but this is quite a high maintenance option and not for everyone. If you are not that ambitious or artistic then you could just create windows within the hedge if it is obstructing your view or, if access is the problem, create a gap where you can hang a gate or install an arch.

Replacing a hedge with a hedge

Hedges do offer a lot of advantages over other types of perimeter barriers and so some people choose to remove their current hedge and then replace it with something more suitable, perhaps a hedge that is aesthetically pleasing and possibly more attractive to wildlife. A typical example of this would be the removal of Leylandii trees which have caused numerous problems for individual households and between neighbours because of the height they can grow to. Leylandii hedges block out light and drain the land and soil of nutrients affecting other plants in the garden. They can soon reach a height which makes them impractical to prone and rapidly run out of control affecting neighbouring properties and also adjacent roads.

An unwanted hedge can be replaced with a new hedge of completely different type and proportions radically improving the property and without the need to permanently lose the greenery. Hedges are better than fences at blocking out noise and dust from both the road and adjoining properties because of the effect of the branches and the foliage plus there is no compromise on wildlife so hedging is a very eco-friendly choice.

Readymade hedges

Hedging is not always a quick fix but there are some fairly quick-growing species like Californian privet which can reach ten feet tall within three years or Cedar which can make the same height in a decade. Fortunately, the disadvantage of waiting for a hedge to grow has been combated by companies who now offer readymade hedges which can be transplanted and put in place, instantly replacing the old, ugly hedge that you have removed and avoiding the need to either wait years for new hedging to grow or, resorting to fencing.

These hedges are pre-grown and sold by the linear metre rather than as individual plants. Most are supplied at a height ranging from 0.8 metres to around 1.8/2.0 metres depending on the species although you can go even higher. Instant hedges are available in evergreen - Yew, Box, Holly and Privet - and deciduous varieties such as Beech, Hornbeam and Hawthorn and also native mixes. There are easy to plant versions for the householder available in hedge bags all sold by the linear metre through trade outlets.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need planning permission to remove a hedge?

You may do depending on where the hedge is situated. If the hedge borders agricultural land or common land including village or town greens then you will almost certainly require planning permission to remove it. This is also the case if the hedge borders a local nature reserve or Site of Special Scientific Interest – SSSI. Planning permission is not normally required if the hedge is in or borders a domestic garden and/or is shorter than twenty metres, this measurement includes gaps or breaks in the hedge, for example, where there is a gate. If you need to apply for planning permission and are refused then you will be served with a Hedgerow Retention Notice. If you remove a hedge without permission when permission should be sought then it does constitute a criminal offence and this carries a maximum fine of £5,000.

Why is it important to remove the root balls of the hedge?

If you don’t remove the hedge in its entirety, then the roots can re-grow; hedges are nothing if not tenacious. Any remaining stumps or part of the root ball can bring forth suckers and start the whole process off again. Even stumps which are seemingly dead can become a host for fungal problems like honey fungus which can go on to predate on other plant species in your garden. If you leave the roots in place then it can limit the options you have for the cleared area particularly if you want to plant something else.

Is it best to grind out the stumps or physically remove them?

The decision on this will depend upon a number of factors:-

  • The number of stumps
  • The depth of the stumps
  • The species of the hedge which will dictate how far any root structure may have grown
  • Access to the site

Stump grinding is usually the preferred option as it makes less mess and is very efficient in a more confined space like a garden. Stump removal can create large craters and more disruption but if the whole garden is being re-landscaped then this might not be a bad option.

Are there any other choices for removing the hedge?

Unless you want to retain the hedge then you could consider moving it to suitably prepared new ground. New hedges are supplied in this manner but it possibly takes even more skills to transplant a hedge and you may need professional help.

When is the best time of year to get rid of a hedge?

Intuitively, it might seem to be the long hot days of summer but this is when the birds nest so you are better off working in either early spring before the nesting season or late autumn when all the chicks have fledged and the nests are empty. Most farmers will start hedge work in July after harvest but check your bird species as some birds will continue to raise young well into August. There is no actual legislation which controls when you can trim or remove a hedge but birds are protected year-round so the hedge should be left alone if there are active nests.

Does getting rid of a hedge affect birds and insects?

Whether a hedge provides a haven for wildlife or not depends on what type of hedge you have and the plants it is comprised of. If you are worried about disturbing nature then avoid the nesting season and also be aware that some hedges can provide hibernation cover at their base for hedgehogs. If the hedge really has to go then you could provide alternative flora and foliage in the garden to compensate for the loss of wildlife habitat.

Who owns my boundary hedge?

Normally a shared hedge between two properties is a shared responsibility and most householders are happy to keep the hedge on their side in trim and well maintained. Issues can arise though when one party wants to remove that hedge claiming ownership of the hedge. The title deeds to the property should explain definitively who owns the hedge even if both parties share the maintenance.

What is the 1996 Party Wall Act?

This statute protects your neighbours from noise, disruption and damage to their property from works carried out on neighbouring properties. The legislation applies to houses and shared walls but also external boundaries including walls, hedges and fences. So, even if you own the hedge, you will still need to make an agreement with your neighbours under the provisions of the Act to protect their property and their peace and quiet whilst the hedge is being removed. The 1996 Party Wall Act applies whether you have sole or joint ownership of the hedge.

Can a hedge be in joint ownership?

Some hedges are in the ownership of more than one landowner or householder and this can make life more complicated if you want to remove the hedge and your neighbour wants it to stay. Often a hedge is on one side of the boundary or the other and so is in the clear ownership of one party but if the hedge is planted actually on the legal boundary then it is regarded as a party hedge and it may not be removed without your neighbour’s consent. If they grudgingly consent to the removal of the hedge, you could end up footing the bill on your own if they don’t agree with the plan to remove the hedge and replace it with something else.

For more information on the disposing of garden waste and on the removal of trees and hedges, take a look at information on the Government and Dacorum borough council websites.

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