Last Modified October 19, 2015
Our tree team deals with enquiries relating to Tree Preservation Orders, trees in Conservation Areas and High Hedges.
Trees on the roadside, pavements and public footpaths are generally the responsibility of Hertfordshire County Council Highways section.
Trees in parks and in other public spaces that are owned or managed by us are maintained by our Parks and Leisure Department.
Please see the tree contacts page for contact details for the relevant departments.
General tree advice
We do not provide general advice on tree management so you should consult an approved tree work contactor for professional advice. You might like to read the Arboricultural Association's online tree care advice as an introduction to tree management.
We cannot get involved in disputes relating to individual trees on a neighbouring property. This is a civil matter which has to be dealt with between neighbours.
The government provides some information and useful contacts for resolving neighbour disputes. The Arboricultural Association's FAQs may also help.
If the problem involves a line of two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs which are obstructing your light or outlook, this may constitute a high hedge, and a complaint can be made to us. Complaints can only be accepted after all other options have been tried, and a fee applies. Our High Hedges page has more information.
Your neighbour has a duty of care to maintain their trees and hedges so they don’t, for example, damage your property. If they do damage your property, your neighbour may be liable.
You can trim branches or roots that cross into your property up to the property boundary providing this does not kill the tree or make it unstable. If you cut back branches or roots beyond the property boundary, or carry out work that causes a tree to become unstable or die, your neighbour could take you to court for damaging their property, besides causing a potential danger to property and life.
If the trees are in a Conservation Area or are covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) you will need consent from us.
Legal advice should be obtained through a solicitor or lawyer if you are unsure of your legal rights or obligations. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to provide initial advice.
If you don't know where the exact property boundary lies, the best place to start is the title plan and/or land registry documents for your property. You may find this information with the deeds to your property. Local Authorities do not keep boundary records and cannot help with determining property boundaries. These records are kept by the Land Registry.
See the government's advice on working out the exact boundary of your property.
If you think a tree in a neighbouring garden is dangerous, firstly speak to your neighbour about it. If the tree could pose a risk to the general public and you cannot get in contact with the owner of the property, the Council has limited discretionary powers to make dangerous trees safe. These powers are used only on the advice of our legal department.
- Trees posing a threat to the safety of highway (road and pavement) users should be reported to Hertfordshire County Council.
- Trees causing a potential danger to power lines should be reported to the energy supply company.
A tree is not necessarily considered dangerous simply because it is tall or positioned close to a house, or because it sways in the wind.
If you have concerns about a tree it may be worthwhile having it inspected by a professional arborist.
Tree related subsidence
If you suspect a risk of subsidence you should consider seeking professional guidance from a structural engineer and/or an approved tree consultant, and consider consulting your insurance company. Subsidence is not always caused by trees - there are several other factors that may be involved. Therefore it is important that a thorough investigation is carried out to establish the cause of subsidence before any trees are removed, to avoid both unnecessary expense and the loss of trees.
See the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors' (RICS) guide to subsidence.
Always check with our tree section before carrying out tree works in case the trees are in a Conservation Area or are covered by a Tree Preservation Order. Find an approved tree work contractor