Tree advice and FAQs

The information found below may not provide complete answers on questions of civil or criminal law. You may also need to seek independent legal advice.

Frequently asked questions

How do I find out if my tree is protected?

You can check to see if a tree is protected by visiting our Protected trees webpage.

My neighbour is cutting down/pruning a tree in his garden. Does he have permission?

You can check to see if a tree is protected by visiting our Protected trees page.

What do I do if I think someone has damaged or felled a protected tree?

Contact us on 01256 844844. We can check whether they are carrying out permitted work. If we have no record of work taking place, and the trees are protected, we will investigate the unauthorised work.

I think my tree is dead. Can I remove it?

Unless it is in imminent danger of falling over, you must give us five days notice before removing a dead or dangerous tree by emailing If it is in imminent danger and the council is closed, you will need to provide supporting evidence afterwards to prove it was dangerous.

Will the council pay for my protected tree to be pruned?

No, all landowners are responsible for ensuring their trees are safe. Any necessary pruning will be at the landowner's expense.

I have a tree that is protected and I want to do some work to it. How do I get permission?

Applications to fell or prune a protected tree must be made in writing to the council. Complete an application form and find further guidance to fell or prune a protected tree.

How can I get a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order?

We will generally only apply a Tree Preservation Order if it can be demonstrated that the tree is under threat. Find more information on how to get a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order

What is a conservation area?

A conservation area is an area of special architectural or historic interest, which has a character or appearance that is desirable to preserve. In a conservation area, all trees with a diameter of over 7.5cm, when measured at a point 1.5m from ground level, are automatically protected, irrespective of species. View a list of conservation areas in the borough.

What is a Tree Preservation Order?

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a special form of control applying to certain trees. It is used to protect trees that positively contribute to the appearance or character of an area. A TPO can be served on an individual tree, a group of trees or a woodland, or any combination of these. A TPO relating to an area of land is known as a ‘blanket’ order. These only protect trees that were there when the order was made. Anything that has grown since will not be protected.

My tree doesn't look very healthy. Can the council advise me? If not, where else can I seek advice?

You should contact the Arboricultural Association 01794 368717 Arboricultural Association or a local tree surgeon.

How can I tell if my tree is safe?

These assessments are best made by qualified experts. Details of tree consultants are available from the Arboricultural Association on 01794 368717, or log on to their website Arboricultural Association.

Can you recommend a tree surgeon or tree consultant?

We are unable to make specific recommendations, but we do keep copies of the Arboricultural Association’s directory of registered consultants and approved tree work contractors, which may be made available. The Arboricultural Association also produces a leaflet on choosing an arborist (tree work contractor), which is available from the council (contact 01256 844844) or direct from the association.

When should I prune my trees?

Generally, trees should be pruned when dormant (November-February). However, all tree species respond differently, so if in doubt seek advice from an expert. Avoid pruning maples and birch in spring, as they tend to bleed profusely. For similar reasons, walnut trees should only be pruned in late summer.

I have a tree that I feel is immediately dangerous and the council offices are closed. Who do I contact?

If it is a council-owned tree, you should call 01256 844844. If it is in your garden, you should contact a tree surgeon.

A protected tree is lifting paving slabs/affecting my drive. Can I cut the roots?

Cutting the roots of any tree is generally not advised, as it may affect the tree's health and stability. If a tree is covered by a Tree Preservation Order, or if it is growing in a conservation area, an application will be required before root pruning can take place. Find more information and an application form for pruning a protected tree.

Tree roots are blocking my drains. What can I do?

Tree roots are opportunistic, and if a pipe with poor joints is leaking into the surrounding soil, it will attract the roots. If repairs are required, a large number of tree roots often lead to the blame being placed with a nearby tree. However, replacing faulty drains/pipes with modern materials will usually eliminate the leak and stop problems.

There is a tree in our street with a broken branch/trunk, or a branch that obstructs a path/drive. Can you help?

Roadside trees are the responsibility of Hampshire County Council.

Report a problem with a roadside tree

My neighbour has a very large hedge, eg leylandii (cypress conifer), along our boundary, and will not reduce the height. What can I do?

The government has introduced a law to tackle this problem. Read our information on high hedges.

I am having problems with a tree in my neighbour's garden blocking light. What can I do?

Issues of blocking light and shading between two properties are private matters. Generally, there is no right of light for one property over another. If this is an issue, you would be advised to seek independent legal advice.

My neighbour’s trees encroach over my boundary. Can I cut them back?

Civil law allows you to remove any branches overhanging your property back to the actual boundary line, projected up into the airspace over the line. Please read our leaflet Tree Ownership and Responsibilities above.

Ash Dieback fungal disease (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus)

Ash Dieback is caused by a fungus on ash trees which has spread from mainland Europe to most parts of the UK. We don’t know for sure what the full impact of the disease in the UK will be; however, it may have a huge impact on our present ash tree population.

There is a government ban on the import of ash plants into the UK and on the movement of ash plants, seeds and trees into and around the UK. The ban does not extend to the movement of ash timber or firewood except from sites where the disease has already been found.

Where infection of an ash tree is suspected or known, each situation will be judged on its individual merits taking into account the amount of dieback along with any other health and safety considerations. The precautionary felling of trees is not recommended at the moment and the disease does not mean that a protected tree can be removed without prior consent from the council.

Report suspected ash dieback to the Forestry Commission. We are actively monitoring council-owned trees for the disease; however, you can also let us know by completing our Report a tree problem form.

More information on ash dieback, including how to identify it, can be found at the woodland trust website.


PDF document Tree protection(PDF) [2 Mb]

PDF document Tree damage(PDF) [140 kb]

PDF document Tree ownership and responsibilities(PDF) [121 kb]

PDF document Trees and development(PDF) [104 kb]

PDF document Trees and wildlife(PDF) [135 kb]

PDF document Guide to proper pruning(PDF) [592 kb]

Contact details

Natural Environment Team

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