Grass cutting, verge, hedge and tree maintenance

Find out who is responsible for maintaining grass verges, hedges and trees, view our grass cutting map and report an issue online.

Do it online

Log in and report an issue with a verge, tree or hedge

If you prefer, you can tell us about a verge, tree or hedge issue anonymously, but you will miss out on the benefits of having an account such as getting progress updates.

 

Not all roads are our responsibility

Motorways and trunk roads such as the A1, A1(M), M62, A66, A66(M), A64, A168 (Dishforth to Thirsk) and A19 (north of Thirsk) must be reported to Highways England.

 

In an emergency

If it's an emergency and poses a safety risk, telephone us. Out of office hours, call North Yorkshire Police on 101. If there is danger to life, call 999.


Grass cutting map

You can access our online maps to find out who is responsible for cutting the grass in each area of the county, according to the following colour coding:

  • red: the county council;
  • green: the parish council;
  • yellow: the borough or district council;
  • grey: areas with no urban grass;
  • brown: a combination of county and parish councils depending on the road in question;
  • pale blue: to be confirmed; and
  • white: third party/independent arrangement (monitored by inspectors)

When you zoom in to street level, the areas marked in dark blue by the side of urban roads show the places where the grass needs to be cut as it affects visibility. Areas we are responsible for will be cut five times a year.

View the grass cutting map

    Frequently asked questions

    Our grass cutting policies are focused on safety and visibility for road users. Due to decreased budgets, we can not cut grass verges for aesthetic reasons. Grass cutting decisions are always made from the point of view of road safety.

    Private verges

    We are not responsible for maintaining the verges of private roads leading to or from private properties, or for the vast majority of hedges by the roadside which are usually the responsibility of the adjacent landowner.

    Environmental concerns

    We have to balance the safety of road users and pedestrians with environmental considerations, recognising that verges are important for wildlife. Some of our grass cutting is done early in the year, and some in July, August or September, to allow flowers to set seed whilst also maintaining safety.

    The frequency of the cut depends on where the verge is located. Usually, areas we are responsible for will be cut five times a year.

    Weeds

    Where weeds are causing a safety hazard, we use one application of a non-residual contact herbicide called 'glyphosate', which conforms to health and safety and Environment Agency requirements. We may use additional treatments where required.

    We receive many reports of verge damage every year. To minimise damage you can take the following steps.

    • Never drive or park on a verge - this kills plants and damages the soil structure.
    • If you see someone damaging a verge, report it to us.
    • Only cut the grass verge later in the year when wild flowers have had time to seed.

    If you are prepared to cut the grass in your parish, you should contact your parish council directly to get permission. We have offered parish councils a financial contribution for cutting the visibility and safety areas of urban highway grass.

    Never plant bulbs or other cultivated plants on road side verges without first obtaining a licence from us.

    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.

    We are responsible for: 

    • managing and keeping the trees and hedges we own, such as 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. We do regular inspections across the county 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.

    Frequently asked questions

    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.

    If you do not maintain your trees and hedges

    If your hedge is causing an obstruction or presenting a danger, we will tell you that work to cut the offending vegetation must be undertaken within 14 days.

    If action isn't taken, or if it is an immediate safety issue, we may carry out the work and recover costs from you.

    We will only take action where a hedge or tree is overhanging the highway or causing an obstruction or safety issue for road users.

    We cannot help you to resolve disputes with neighbours concerning hedges that are on private land.

    Some trees are protected by tree preservation orders and/or lie within conservation areas.

    This can be checked with your district or borough council. Consent is required before any works, including minor pruning, are carried out on protected trees.

    What is a tree preservation order?

    A tree preservation order prohibits the cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, wilful damage or wilful destruction of trees without the consent of the local authority.

    They can be applied to any tree or woodland which may be of special interest or makes a positive contribution to its surrounding environment and the community. Trees exempt from tree preservation orders are those that are dead, dying, diseased or dangerous and fruit trees grown for the commercial production of fruit.

    The district councils are responsible for holding information on tree preservation orders.

    More advice about pruning or felling 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.
    • 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.