Below are answers to commonly asked tree questions and advice on how to select a tree surgeon.
Who is responsible for looking after trees?
The owner of the land that the trees grow on is responsible for the tree. Therefore, if the council owns the land that the tree grows on, the council is responsible for the maintenance of the tree. If the council does not own the land, please contact the legal owner.
Can I cut back branches that overhang into my garden?
Usually, yes. Under common law you have the right to prune back to the boundary any overhanging branches as long as you do not trespass over the boundary in any way and the pruning work would not be to the detriment of the tree. However, you should inform the owner of the tree that you will be doing this and technically you should offer the clippings back, but your neighbour is not obliged to accept them. Always check that the tree is not protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or that you are not in a conservation area before cutting back a tree. If it is protected in any way, you will need to apply for permission from the council.
Can the council help remove or cut back trees from my garden?
If you are a housing association tenant a request should be made through your housing association office. No assistance can be given to private home owners / tenants.
Will the council remove or cut back a tree which is growing near my garden?
Each case is looked at individually. Urgent matters, such as a dangerous tree will be given high priority. A decision on less urgent matters will be given within 10 days. Usually, the council will not remove or cut back a tree if it is not dangerous or causing any damage to property. Shade, leaves, blossom, pollen or seed distribution are not normally reasons to remove or cut back a tree.
Do I need planning permission to plant trees?
No, you do not need to apply for planning permission in order to plant trees. However, do ensure that you are not planting trees in the vicinity of buildings whereby growing trees could damage foundations or deprive your neighbours of light.
Do I need permission from the council before I cut down or prune trees?
In most cases the council's permission is not required. However, you should check if the tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or you are in a conservation area.
Does a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) only cover individual trees?
No. A TPO can cover not only individual trees but also groups of trees and woodland.
A tree is growing close to my house and I’m concerned the tree roots are damaging my drains, what should I do?
Talk to your neighbour; establish the extent of damage, if any. Failed pipe joints can be a means for roots to enter pipes and eventually this may lead to pipe failure or blockage. Small roots can be pruned. If necessary contact house insurers.
A tree is growing close to my house and I’m concerned the tree roots are damaging my foundations, what should I do?
Most foundations are able to withstand tree roots. Tree roots will not penetrate concrete. Seek the advice of a qualified structural engineer.
I am thinking of having a satellite dish installed, the signal maybe obstructed by a council owned tree, what should I do?
There is no legal right to a satellite signal. A dish should not be installed if there is a poor signal, or likely to be in the future. An alternative location should be found. Seek the advice of a qualified engineer.