Trimming Council Trees Overhanging Your Property: Your Rights and Responsibilities


Many property owners in the UK find themselves wondering about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to council trees overhanging their land. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of dealing with council trees, including what you can and cannot do, your legal obligations, and how to navigate this common issue.

Understanding Council Trees

What Are Council Trees?

Council trees are trees on public land, often owned and maintained by local authorities. They can include trees in parks, along streets, and in other public spaces.

Overhanging Branches

One common issue with council trees is the overhanging of branches onto private property. This can lead to concerns about safety, property damage, and obstructed views.

Your Rights

Right to Trim Overhanging Branches

As a property owner, you have the right to trim branches that overhang your property. However, you must do so within the legal guidelines.


Property owners can carry out minor trimming of overhanging branches themselves. This includes branches up to the boundary of your property.

Council Consent

For more extensive work, such as trimming large branches or dealing with trees protected by preservation orders, you may need consent from the council.

Legal Obligations

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

This act protects certain bird species, making it illegal to intentionally damage or destroy their nests while trimming trees. It’s crucial to ensure that no nesting birds are present during your trimming.

Preservation Orders

Some council trees are protected by preservation orders. These orders prevent the cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, uprooting, or wilful destruction of trees without council consent.

Navigating the Process

Contacting Your Local Council

If you believe that overhanging council trees pose a risk or are causing issues, the first step is to contact your local council. They will advise you on whether the tree is protected and what actions can be taken.

Professional Arborists

For more complex situations or large tree trimming, it’s advisable to consult with professional arborists who are experienced in dealing with council trees.


Dealing with council trees overhanging your property is a common concern for UK property owners. While you have the right to trim overhanging branches within legal limits, it’s essential to be aware of preservation orders, nesting bird protection, and legal obligations. Communicating with your local council and consulting with professionals when necessary can help you address this issue while staying within the bounds of the law.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I trim overhanging council tree branches without the council’s consent?

You can trim branches that overhang your property, but you must do so within legal guidelines. Consent may be required for more extensive work.

2. What are preservation orders, and how do they affect tree trimming?

Preservation orders protect certain council trees from cutting, uprooting, or wilful destruction without council consent. You must check with your local council if a tree is protected.

3. What should I do if I suspect nesting birds in an overhanging branch?

It is illegal to intentionally damage or destroy nesting birds’ nests. If you suspect nesting birds, consult with your local council for guidance.

4. Can I hire a professional arborist to trim council trees overhanging my property?

Yes, professional arborists experienced in dealing with council trees can assist with trimming overhanging branches and ensure legal compliance.

5. What steps should I take if overhanging council trees are causing damage to my property?

Contact your local council to report the issue and seek guidance on how to address the damage and potential tree trimming.

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