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Vegetation - hedge and tree maintenance

Hedges and trees grown to mark the boundary with private property are the responsibility of the landowner or occupier and it is up them to maintain them.

Private landowners and occupiers have responsibility for:

  • Ensuring growth does not obscure road signs;
  • Maintaining visibility for road users, particularly at junctions and on the inside of bends;
  • Ensuring growth does not prevent the passage or affect the safety of people using a road, footway, cycleway or public right of way, including cyclists and pedestrians;
  • Removing dead or decaying trees and other growth that may fall across the highway;
  • Removing branches that may prevent the passage of high-sided vehicles or obstruct light from a street light;
  • Ensuring the highway is left clear of debris from cutting work; and
  • Arranging for hedge and tree maintenance works to be undertaken.

We are responsible for:

  • Managing and keeping the trees and hedges we own, i.e. those growing within the highway (including verges and footways) in a safe condition and ensuring they do not damage property or obstruct the highway;
  • Protecting safety by ensuring that owners and occupiers maintain roadside hedges and trees as outlined above. A programme of cyclic inspections is completed covering the highway network in North Yorkshire and, when necessary, we liaise with tree owners to ask that appropriate work be carried out; and
  • Enhancing road safety by cutting hedges on the inside of bends and at junctions on major roads at the same time as cutting the grass verges. Despite doing this work, owners and occupiers are not relieved of their responsibilities.

Report a tree or hedge online

If the issue is causing an immediate danger to the safety of road users, it is classed as an emergency. You should contact us by telephone to report an emergency rather than using our online form. Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am - 5.30pm. Dial 999 outside office hours for our emergency service.

You can tell us about an issue with a tree or hedge by registering / logging in to the 'my account' section of the website. 'My account' also allows you to view details of services you have previously applied, booked and paid for. You can also see updates on their progress.

If you prefer, you can tell us about an issue with a tree or hedge anonymously, but please be aware that you will miss out on the benefits of having an account ie. you will not receive progress updates.

You can provide feedback about your experience of reporting an issue with a tree or hedge here.

Check the progress of a previously reported highway issue

Updates to issues you reported whilst logged into your account are available here.

Timing of maintenance work

Landowners and farmers are recommended to undertake trimming in January and February and not to cut back hedges from 1 April to 31 July. This is to cut the chance of disturbing breeding birds and destroying nests; allow most plants to finish flowering and seeding; allow nuts and berries to be available to wildlife for as long as possible in winter, and to reduce congestion and delays, as there will probably be less traffic on the roads.

Taking care when maintaining trees

Trees should be retained and protected wherever possible. Pruning or felling can be the subject of significant local concern, and should only be done with specialist advice and support. Any works should be carried out by a qualified and insured contractor.

Vegetation - hedge and tree maintenance - frequently asked questions

This page was last updated on 13 October 2016