Leylandii Pruning The Law And You

Who of​ you out there has a​ fast growing Leylandii hedge (golden or​ green)? Maybe you call it​ by its Latin name x Cupressocyparis Leylandii or​ maybe you call it​ “that damned high maintenance,​ sunlight blocking hedging”. Please try not to​ be so hard on​ this conifer,​ as​ evergreen hedges with thick foliage such as​ Leylandii,​ can filter out up to​ 30% of​ atmospheric pollution. Now,​ I have called it​ a​ hedge but maybe I should have called it​ a​ line of​ trees,​ because your Leylandii is​ in​ fact a​ tree not a​ hedging shrub. You will have realised this,​ if​ you have been fighting a​ losing battle to​ keep a​ Leylandii hedge to​ a​ height that will still allow sunlight to​ enter your property.

When to​ prune,​ side and top

This crazy growth conifer tree is​ always trying to​ get to​ its ultimate height of​ 20 metres (60 ft) and ultimate spread of​ 5 metres (15 ft). So for most people this means pruning their hedge religiously each year,​ missing a​ years pruning will result in​ excessive labour at​ dangerous height the​ following year. Anytime during the​ month of​ May is​ a​ good time to​ trim and tidy up a​ formal Leylandii hedge. Many people choose to​ trim in​ late autumn when giving the​ garden a​ late tidy,​ I would always avoid this. the​ reason being that if​ you leave a​ buffer of​ straggly growth over winter this will offer protection against frosty or​ cold wind damage,​ any browned or​ burnt foliage can be trimmed off during the​ month of​ May. if​ you had trimmed in​ late autumn and subsequently received some cold wind damage,​ you would now have to​ trim a​ second time,​ leaving a​ rather bare and see through hedge.

How often and how hard can I prune?

Ideally,​ you should trim a​ formal Leylandii hedge every season trimming no deeper than 15 cm or​ 6 inches on​ each side,​ this will encourage the​ hedge to​ fill out and thicken. Beware,​ trimming or​ should I say cutting back into older wood on​ Leylandii’s is​ best avoided. This is​ because most conifers including Junipers,​ Chamaecyparis and Yew will not grow new shoots or​ leaves on​ old wood. You will see examples of​ this exhibited on​ the​ many brown patched Leylandii’s that litter our countryside and towns.

Leylandii and the​ law

In Britain,​ x Cupressocyparis Leylandii is​ estimated to​ be the​ cause of​ over 20,​000 ongoing neighbour disputes. the​ disputes usually centre on​ encroachment or​ the​ exclusion of​ sunlight; many of​ these problems end up in​ court or​ worse still,​ the​ local accident and emergency room.
Here is​ the​ law as​ it​ stands in​ Britain…

- if​ Leylandii or​ another form of​ hedge is​ encroaching on​ a​ neighbour's garden,​ the​ neighbours is​ entitled to​ trim back the​ hedge to​ the​ boundary themselves,​ but must return the​ trimmings to​ the​ owner. That solves the​ sideways growth of​ the​ tree,​ but a​ neighbour is​ not entitled to​ reduce its height. This is​ where your people skills will be put to​ the​ test as​ you try to​ convince your neighbour to​ top his trees.

- if​ the​ neighbour digs his heels in​ and stubbornly refuses to​ reduce the​ height of​ the​ hedge,​ then you can contact you local council. a​ complainant must prove they have tried to​ resolve matters privately first before approaching their local council. if​ the​ council deems the​ hedge excessive,​ they can then order it​ to​ be reduced in​ height to​ two metres.
- Failure to​ comply with this order could mean a​ fine of​ £1,​000.

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