UK Gardeners Warned Over Mistakes That Can Cost £12k In Fines

From fences to plants to pets, you could easily be breaking these rules.
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Summer is in full swing in the UK (although someone might want to remind the weather that...) and many of us are heading out into our gardens to exercise our green thumbs.

However, as we start to spruce up our gardens this summer, many may find themselves accidentally breaking laws that they are not aware of.

From growing the wrong plants to letting your hedge get too big, some of these fines carry an eye-watering £12,000 price tag, so it quite literally pays to be in the know.

To help Brits avoid these unexpected fines, Angela Slater, Gardening Expert at Hayes Garden World, has highlighted five garden laws Brits may not be aware they are breaking.

Fence and hedge height restrictions

“The standard hedge and fence height that gives you enough privacy is usually a maximum of two metres,” explains Slater.

Anything above two metres may be a nuisance for your neighbours and potentially block sunlight into their garden, or even cause safety concerns.

You might not realise you need your neighbours’ permission, but before erecting a fence or hedge, both parties will need to agree to it, so ensure you notify your neighbours of your wish for a new fence so there is no disturbance.

Slater adds: “If you’re looking to erect a fence over 2 metres tall, or 1 metre tall if it is adjacent to a road used by vehicles, you will need to seek planning permission.”

Improperly burying a pet

It is completely understandable that you would want to bury your pet in your garden - it’s private, personal and can be much cheaper.

“But what many don’t know is that you are not permitted to bury a pet if you live in a rented property, as they are technically not your grounds. Similarly, avoid burying your pet in a public space as this is illegal,” says Slater.

“It is advised that the burial shouldn’t be in contact with any water sources and be buried at least three feet deep in light soil to safeguard against scavengers.”

An improperly dug pet burial can land you a fine of up to £5,000.

Water usage restrictions

Warmer weather naturally encourages a higher demand for water, which can lead to water usage restrictions in certain areas of the UK.

During summer, areas with limited water supply may be imposed with water usage restrictions - commonly known as a hosepipe ban.

“In a bid to save water and avoid drought, water companies restrict unnecessary usage such as watering your garden, lawn, car or even having a water fight. If caught using your hosepipe, you can potentially be fined up to £1,000 or even prosecuted in court,” Slater warns.

Invasive plants and noxious weeds

This is a biggie, if you find you have invasive plants and noxious weeds, such as Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed, in your garden, you will need to take action, or you will face a fine of up to £5,000.

“These plants can cause massive ecological damage by causing extinction to other animals and plants. Japanese knotweed specifically can create serious damage to drain pipework, but removing it can be the main difficulty,” says Slater.

“If you find yourself with these plants in your garden, it is best to contact a professional urgently; it is your responsibility to get them removed from your garden to avoid extensive damage.”

Right to privacy and light

Privacy is hugely important and deserved by everyone, which is why making sure you are not impeaching on your neighbour’s space is the first rule of thumb.

“High hedges and overgrown trees and shrubs may be a beautiful addition to your garden, but they can risk restricting light into your neighbour’s garden. If you notice that this is a nuisance for your neighbour, the first port of call is to have a conversation with them to try and find a resolution,” advises Slater.

If this fails, they may apply for a High Hedge Notice. This means that if the hedge meets the criteria, the council has the power to reduce the height of the hedge or even remove it completely. If you refuse to allow entry to the land for removal, you could be fined up to £1,000.”