Spring gardening? Here are six laws you could be breaking without realising

With spring just around the corner green-fingered enthusiasts will be looking to get their gardens ready and blooming for the warmer weather ahead. 

In fact, over the past month searches for the term ‘Spring Flowers’ have gone up by a huge 556%. 

But before you go sweeping up leaves, planting trees or trimming back branches that have overgrown during the winter, did you know that there are several laws you could be breaking by doing so?

To help you keep on good terms with your neighbours, the legal experts at BPP University Law School have revealed six things that could get you in trouble with the law while prepping your garden for spring this year. 

1) Fruit theft

It may sound strange, but it’s true: if you find fruit in your garden that has fallen from a tree belonging to your neighbour, they have the legal right to ask for it back. 

Not only this but removing said fruit and keeping it would count as stealing. If you want to avoid this, the best solution is to return the fruit as soon as you find it – and avoid simply throwing it back into their garden. If you do this, it could be seen as garden waste fly-tipping or littering.

2) Trimming branches

During winter, branches on your trees and bushes may have overgrown while you’ve neglected your garden and you may find that it is blocking those warm spring sun rays from coming through. While this can be frustrating, you cannot simply hack off the branch of a tree if it doesn’t belong to you.

Despite this, you are, in fact, allowed to cut branches up to your property line – which is essentially where your garden ends and your neighbour’s begins. To avoid conflict, it is always better to ask first. 

3) Planting trees

If you are spending more time in your garden now the weather is getting warmer then, naturally, you may want to make some changes to it – possibly by planting some trees.

However, you will need to think twice about this as, under the Right to Light Act, if your neighbour has had natural light accessible via a window for 20 years or more, you are not allowed to block it. 

It is therefore always wise to plant trees and bushes out of the way of windows that do not belong to you, to avoid any confusion. 

4) Asking your neighbours to clean up their leaves

If you have started to spend more time in your garden as you get it ready for spring, it is only natural that you would want it to be clean and tidy – but that is, unfortunately, on you.

Strangely, your neighbours are not under any legal obligation to clean up leaves that may have fallen into your garden from their trees over the winter. 

While it may be tempting to ask your neighbours to get sweeping, as the tree belongs to them, it could be wise to invest in a leaf blower or a rake of your own. This way, your garden can remain pristine. 

5) Taking flowers from your neighbours 

Certain trees come equipped with very pretty flowers which, in the heat of the moment, you may feel the urge to take as your own. 

While the flowers may have already fallen or may be able to fall from the tree, your neighbours still have every right to ask for them back – just like with fruit. 

So instead, try ordering bright spring seeds, bulbs, spades, and gardening gear yourself, and get planting!

6) Taking land disputes into your own hands

Finally, we come to the issue that has probably torn more neighbours apart than anything else: land disputes. 

Spending time in your garden more often as we head into spring, could lead to your thoughts wandering to topics such as ‘should my neighbour’s fence be that close to my house? Is that genuinely where the boundaries between our houses are?’ 

Unfortunately, as boundaries can actually move over the years, this kind of confusion can usually only be settled by contacting HM Land Registry

Photo by Benjamin Combs