Neighbours cut down my hedge

There’s a wire fence between my house and the next door garden. Several years ago I planted some laurel bushes along the fence to obscure the view of their unattractive disused concrete rabbit hutches. The laurels were doing a good job = the tallest was probably about a metre and a half high. The neighbours house is now unoccupied - it was bought by a young farmer who wanted the fields belonging to it. His parents use the back garden to grow potatoes. A couple of days ago, his mother was in the garden with a hedge trimmer, and she started cutting the tops of the laurels. We didn’t object, though she hadn’t asked in advance - gave her a friendly wave and a bonjour. Imagine our horror when next morning we saw that she had completely obliterated the laurels - they had been cut right down to the roots, which she couldn’t have done without coming over the fence to our side of the garden. We cannot understand why or how she did this, and wonder what recourse we have. We are not on great terms with them but are cordial. But I can’t believe this action is legal. Any thoughts?

If it was over 2mtrs high it’s against the law also if to close to the fence I had same problem a few years ago I
must admit my tree’s and bush’s were up to 10mtrs high so tread carefully with your complaint’s

Thanks for you reply David. As I said in my post the tallest was around one and half metres high. Yes they were quite close to the fence so possibly illegal. Nevertheless I doubt that the neighbours had the right to come into my property and cut them to the ground without asking me first.Am I wrong about this?

Hi Harriet do not know on that one I know some friends had a lot of ivy on their wall and neighbors did come in one day and cut it down without asking in my case they came with an interpreter and translated documents to show me the error of my ways as always we have to tread carefully with neighbors its a fine line you could ask at the Marie sorry I can not be more helpful

In general you shouldn’t plant anything within 2m of a boundary, and must then keep it below 2m.

I imagine your friendly wave could have been taken as a ‘that’s ok, keep going,” gesture so they took the opportunity to do so!

Whether or not their actions were legal in coming on to your property is a bit irrelevant. Can you prove they did - where are the branches they cut off? But if you had planted these too close to the boundary they can demand you remove them, so basically you can complain that they cut them and then they’ll complain that they were too close. And that’s how lifelong feuds start.

Best thing to do would be to go and talk to them, and see if the hedge does bother them and if so would they be happy if you kept it at 1.20m? If not dig it up and plant another one at the correct distance.

It was below 2m high. And I can’t ask them if it bothers them because it doesn’t exist anymore!

What I’d do Harriet is put up a fence and obscure the hutches with bruyère. I don’t think fences have to be two metres from the boundary (apart from the one on the roadside perhaps), at least none around here are . I think bruyère goes up to 2M and maybe even more.

We had a rather difficult Portuguese neighbour cut done some of our trees about ten years ago and nick the wood. He was very dismissive when we talked to him about it. If he’d asked we would have agreed, in fact encouraged him and let him keep the ruddy wood, but he figured WE were stupid foreigners (the irony) so he 'd just gone ahead. Subsequently we got the bornage done again (at considerable expense) to prove exactly where the boundary was.

In the first six or seven years we owned the house we cut down around 100 pines (they’re not indigenous I’m told but blow ins (literally from Italy), including some very, very tall ones but we didn’t bother on our boundary with him. I’ll play fair with anybody, more than fair but not if they take me for an idiot. :slightly_smiling_face:

That’s his house peeking out in the middle. The sun comes from the right.

1 Like

That’s why I said you must ‘then’ keep it below 2m. Laurel will grow again even when cut to the base.

Sometimes you just have to be careful where the light is coming from…


if the hight of your laurel hedge is under 2m no problem & then depending on the distance from the boundary, your hedge can be a lot higher. Though they have no right to cause damage to your propriety!
If I was you I would go see them straight away, and calmly tell them you are not happy. They can not just trespass onto your propriety and do as they like!
They may get a bit hufferty with you but ‘hey ho’ they are in the wrong, just get your point across.
Have a word with the Maire / Mairie may help? I put a question mark because some local communities are very rural & are all brother & bob, inter-related etc. & don’t like foreigners & that includes the French from other regions most of all from Paris!
If that happened to me, I would make sure that their potager would not yield a thing!
Please keep us updated.

1 Like

Still seems very odd a neighbour cutting your hedge down I would be bloody furious!


‘Bloody furious’! So would I & let it known to the perpetrators whilst being diplomatic before…

1 Like

Thanks for the support. I got the feeling from the first replies I got that people thought I was in the wrong and should just suck it up as they say. I’m not much given to fury but I certainly was extremely upset and couldn’t believe they could come onto my property and cut my hedge to the ground legally. I think talking to them is probably the way forward. Our Mairie is closed for the moment which is a shame as they have always been very supportive. I will report back if I get anywhere. Thanks again.


If you don’t broach the subject with the neighbour in question, how will things move anywhere ? That the hedge may have been planted too close is one thing, but in that case, I think you could at least ask the neighbour why they didn’t mention it to you and ask if and when you were going to do something about it. IMHO you shouldn’t let this go without them knowing that they are not simply entitled to do with your property as they seem fit. Say it politely, but firmly, and they will probably respect you for it, and be more wary next time. Go off on one, and you’ll likely end up with all sorts of long running “nightmare neighbour from hell” situations.


I suspect your Mairie will be contactable by email and telephone…

phones have been redirected… and are (probably) best kept for folk reporting accidents etc…

Send an email, clearly outlining the situation and asking their advice.

However, from experience, I suspect the first thing they will be asking (themselves if not you)… have you spoken with the neighbours… :thinking:

Alex these are wise words. I totally agree with what you say here.

Thanks Stella - yes I’m sure there’s a contact number for the Mairie. But as you say, probably best to see what the neighbours have to say before stirring things up.

I do understand your indignation… been in similar situation.

No idea how good your French is… but (if necessary) put together your thoughts/questions/feelings. Write clearly… and use this as a crib sheet… for you… when you go to see the neighbour…

this worked for me… I hate confrontations…my mind goes a blank… but my crib sheet kept me on the right track during our “conversation”… :relaxed:

good luck

(the telephone number for the Mairie should be the same as always…)

I have some “round up” if required.


Yes I agree with Alex too.
In general, though, I have doubts about laurel as a hedge - once the roots are strongly established it can grow like billy-o, and turn into a row of trees in no time.
Of course it’s always the planter’s intention to keep it trimmed - but the laurel will carrying on growing if you move house - or if like me you have a long illness (recently - I’m OK now) - or other urgent priorities.