You might not know you're breaking the law - seven garden crimes to avoid this spring -

Stay within the law with our garden etiquette guideStay within the law with our garden etiquette guide
Stay within the law with our garden etiquette guide

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British gardeners have been warned of seven crimes they could be committing in their backyards and how to avoid them.

Outdoor experts have revealed common criminal offences green-fingered Brits might be unwittingly committing and offered advice on how to steer clear of any legal hot water in the garden.

With the weather improving and spring on the way, the warning has been issued so gardeners can make the most of their backyards without any unnecessary stress.

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A spokesperson for said: “With many gardeners ready to swing back into action now the worst of the winter weather had passed, we’re encouraging Brits to remember that the law of the land still applies on private property.

“Statutory regulation might not be at the forefront of your mind when you head out side to do a spot of planting and pruning, but it could be easy to get in to a legal row with a neighbour if you’re not too careful.”

1. Theft

Keeping and eating windfallen fruit, such as apples, that are blow into your garden, or stocking up on leaves, twigs and branches from neighbours’ trees, perhaps for firewood, could be considered theft – as they constitute someone else’s property that you intend to permanently deprive them of.

It is necessary to always seek permission before retaining items that are technically possessions of another gardener – if this is denied they must be returned to their rightful owner, who is entitled to demand them at any moment.

2. Fly tipping

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Don’t just throw garden fruit, twigs or trimmings straight back over the garden fence though, as this could be viewed as garden waste fly tipping.

Even scooping up cat droppings which you suspect to belong to a neighbour’s pet and tossing them back to where you think they belong could be interpreted as illegal disposal of waste, particularly if you have no concrete evidence of an item’s origin.

3. Trespass

Leaning into a neighbour's garden to trim overhanging trees or plants – or for any other purpose – could be interpreted as trespassing, even if there are no physical barriers to cross.

Green-fingered Brits should only take their shears up to the boundary line of their property and consider knocking on their neighbour’s door or leaving a polite note if garden maintenance is required on their land.

4. Blocking Light

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When put into practice, the ancient right to light law, now normally acquired under the 1832 Prescription Act, in effect means that if a window has received natural daylight for two decades or more, the owner of that building is entitled to forbid any obstruction to their illumination.

This means that your neighbour could order you to tear down your new shed, tree or anything else in your garden if it blocks the sun reaching their windows, so it’s important to think carefully and possibly seek permission if a new garden building or feature is at risk of blocking next door’s daylight.

5. Pollution

Popular Brits who have lots of friends and family over for an garden social gathering could be guilty of noise pollution if they disturb neighbours, particularly overnight.

Using noisy, mechanical garden equipment such as powered lawnmowers, chainsaws or even heating a hot tub could also leave you in legal hot water if you produce too many decibels for next door’s liking.

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Gardeners could also be running a real risk of illegally pollution the air if they burn rubbish in their backyards or have a barbeque or bonfire that is too smoky.

6. Snooping

Your children might not be little 007’s, but if they love to jump up and down on a trampoline in the garden then they could be subject to complaints of intruding into the neighbours’ privacy.

Similar accusations could be levelled at Brits tempted to peek into next door’s home when climbing a ladder to clean the windows or when trimming a tree, so anyone rising above the height of backyard fences or hedges should be reminded of an individual’s important right to privacy.

7. Vandalism

Painting a fence that doesn’t belong to you could be considered minor vandalism, so it’s important to check the property deeds or land registry if you’re not sure.

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Attaching a washing line, garden hose or hanging basket to a neighbour’s outside wall could also potentially damage their property and may leave home owners in a spot of bother if they haven’t expressly sought permission beforehand.

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