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How much does hedge trimming cost?

Most hedge trimming costs will be based on the simple time spent to do the job and clear up the clippings so work on a daily rate of £100-£200 depending on the size of contractor you use to do the work. A sole gardener will almost always be cheaper than a professional gardening contractor or a landscape company. Most hedge cutting is pretty straightforward work and if you get into a regular routine of doing it then this will keep the hedge under control and prevent both the hedge and the costs from spiralling out of control.

Hedges are a popular and attractive feature of any garden, they are environmentally friendly, a haven for wildlife, birds and insects and act as a green barrier to keep out noise and dust. However, they do require fairly regular maintenance and trimming to keep them healthy and looking their best plus, you need to avoid any complaints from the neighbours.

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What other factors can affect the cost of cutting a hedge?

There are a number of factors which can affect the cost of cutting a hedge and these include:-
The type of jobs which require constant attention and regular maintenance during the growing season might include:

  • The length of the hedge
  • The height of the hedge which may require ropes or other equipment to reach the highest point of the branches
  • Access to the hedge which can impact on the time spent and thus the cost of a gardener, for instance, if the hedge borders a busy road
  • The species of plant within the hedge
  • The current condition of the hedge, i.e. whether it is overgrown or out of control
  • Where you live – this type of work is invariably expensive in London and the South East

hedge trimming rates explained
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Why hedges need to be cut

Hedges are like any other plant or shrub in your garden, they need good care to keep them healthy and also to prevent them from growing out of control. If the hedge in your garden forms a boundary with another property then your neighbours won’t thank you if it is left to run wild.

When should hedges be cut or pruned?

Most maintenance cutting on an established hedge takes place during the summer but are there are factors which need to be considered before you pick up the hedge cutter:-

  • The bird nesting window needs to be avoided and this is from March through to around early August although some species may still be producing chicks later on into the summer. It is an offence under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act to damage or to destroy the nest of any bird so you should undertake an extensive survey before you start cutting. If you find what you believe to be an active birds’ nest then you will need to wait and observe the nest to determine whether it is in use and if so, you cannot cut until it has been vacated for the season
  • The species of plants within the hedge – different species are cut at different times of the year and some more frequently than others

Yew hedges – cut yew once a year in August or September

Leyland Cypress/Leylandii – these require cutting three times a year in April, July and late August because they are fast growers, cutting once a year would quickly lead to overgrowth both in terms of the width and the height of the trees

Beech hedges – usually cut in August and they grow very little after cutting - their growth period is the first quarter of the year. Hard cutting back for a hedge which is too large can be done in mid-winter as long as the weather is not very cold

Privet – trim twice a year between May and August, the more you cut privet, the more it will thicken up and form a dense hedge and this, in turn, makes it easier to keep it all the same size. Overgrown privet can be cut back hard in April

Laurel – laurel should be cut in July or August and may need a tidy up with secateurs as hedge trimmers can leave the large tough leaves looking rather ragged and misshapen

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How to find a contractor to cut your hedges

Whether you look for a gardener to cut your hedges or you need a larger company to tackle a bigger job will depend on the length, size and condition of your hedge run. There are online platforms to help you find a trade who can provide details of contractors in your area based on a job description and the postcode. Or, you can ask around for a recommendation from family and friends or via a group on social media.

Try and obtain three estimates before you make a decision on who to use as the price can vary hugely. Make sure the figure quoted includes all the clearing up and removal and disposal of the hedge clippings or you could be left with a huge and messy task on your hands.

Hedge cutting disputes

Hedges and their growth and maintenance are unfortunately a well-known bone of contention between householders; difficulties tend to surround the non-maintenance of a hedge and its incursion into a neighbouring property or the actual removal of a hedge which has grown too high or is just unwanted. Most of the horror stories in the media concern Leylandii purely because of the vast height they can reach and the disruption they cause to people’s lives; emotions run seriously high over these trees. High hedges block out sunlight particularly in the winter months when the sun is low and their roots can travel some distance disturbing hard surfaces like patios and driveways and even damaging buildings. But disputes over hedges can arise over far smaller and more insignificant hedges than Leylandii.

What is the legal position on cutting a hedge?

You can cut your own hedge and you can cut your neighbour’s hedge if it is overhanging or encroaching into your garden but it is an act of trespass to return the hedge clippings to their side of the boundary once you have done it. Part of your annual or twice yearly hedge cutting routine may involve asking your neighbour for access to his side of the hedge so it can be properly cut along the top, you could even offer to cut his side to save him the job.

Only the owner of the hedge can arrange to have it removed and sometimes ownership is not clear with boundary hedges. The title deeds which have a physical map of the property will clarify who owns the hedge and sometimes, a hedge can be right on the boundary rather than very slightly to one side or the other in which case the hedge will be in the joint ownership of two households. Co-operation is vital if you want to cut the hedge and manage it or even remove it.

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Hedge Trimming Rates FAQs

Do some hedges grow more quickly than others?

Some species of hedge plants grow far more rapidly than others and principal amongst these would be Leylandii which is notorious for growing about 100cm or three feet every year. If you are just establishing a hedge then speed may be a priority for you but if the Leylandii are already very high and out of reach, then their growth rate may not be ideal. There are other species like Purple Berberis, Holly and Box which are far more controllable and offer some beautiful foliage and colours and will create a mature hedge which you can manage. So if you want to plant a new hedge just bear in mind that some plants which grow quickly may just carry on growing and give you a nightmare management issue further down the line.

When should a hedge be cut back hard?

If a hedge is getting too large, prune it back in April, it can be cut right back to the trunk. Cut the top back in the first year and then one side of the hedge in the second year and the final side in the third year.

What is topiary?

Topiary is the art of cutting shrubs and hedges into ornamental shapes and can be a great decorative feature in the garden although these designs can be high maintenance. For the less ambitious, just cutting windows or arches into a tall hedge can make a great addition to a garden particularly if the hedge is not a perimeter hedge and is partway down the garden.

Who is responsible for cutting a dividing hedge between two properties?

The usual rule is that you are responsible for cutting and maintaining the hedge on your side and in your garden irrespective of who owns it. This can work well if there are no disputes and both parties have an amicable relationship.

The hedge adjacent to my garden belongs to my neighbour and is becoming very high and overgrown, does he have a legal obligation to cut it?

There is a piece of legislation called the 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act which can be used to apply to high hedges. This gives local councils the power to take action where “reasonable enjoyment of a property is being adversely affected by the height of a high hedge which is situated on land owned or occupied by another person”. Hedges and their maintenance can often cause disputes between neighbours and this Act was passed in response to a plethora of feuds between householders over overheight and overgrown hedges. Councils are able to arbitrate between the parties and decide whether the rogue hedge is too high and having an adverse effect on one person’s enjoyment of their home or garden. They can order a householder to take steps to put this right.

Do you need planning permission to cut a hedge?

Planning permission is not usually required but if the property is listed and/or in a conservation area then check with the local council to see if there are any restrictions in place particularly if your cutting is going to be more than a maintenance trim or you are planning some topiary designs.

If I have had a dispute with my neighbour over cutting a boundary hedge, do I have to reveal this when I put the house on the market?

Any form of dispute between neighbours has to be truthfully revealed on the Property Information Form which every vendor is required to complete. The size and height of a boundary hedge may already have set alarm bells ringing in the ears of some potential purchasers – it’s hard not to notice a row of 30-foot high Leylandii and some mortgage companies may not be happy about them either - but a small and unobtrusive hedge may keep its secret about the trouble it has caused. The Property Information Form is part of the pre-contract documents so it is legally binding and any purchaser relying on its contents as part of their purchase decision will have the right to sue if there are untruths on it or something is deliberately concealed. So it is always best to try not to fall out with your neighbours over the issue of cutting and maintaining a hedge as you will have to reveal this.

How can I save money on hedge cutting costs?

Keeping your hedge well cared for and maintained will keep hedge trimming costs under control and your bills whilst regular should not contain any surprises. The other option is to have the hedge cut back hard in the springtime and then maintain it yourself when it is smaller and more manageable. There lots of different sizes and types of hedge cutting equipment on the market to suit all budgets and hedge sizes.

Does it matter if my hedge is cut right back or cut so badly it looks awful?

It is always better to achieve a job that looks aesthetically pleasing, sometimes when hedges are cut right back they can look rather scalped but they soon start to grow again and the lines will soften and improve.

For more information on hedging and the law, take a look at these resources from the RSPB and Durham County Council.

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