Cutting the hedge: what is allowed and when?

Cutting the hedge: what is allowed and when?


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If you cut your hedge without first familiarizing yourself with the legal requirements, you risk a fine. Because this is not permitted all year round.

If you want to trim your hedge to a larger extent, you will have to wait until late autumn or winter. Because the legislature has set very precise deadlines for when hedge trimming is allowed and when not. These requirements serve above all to protect birds, which prefer to breed in hedges. This guide reveals what all hobby gardeners need to know about the deadlines for the permitted hedge trimming.

When is hedge pruning not allowed?

For the period from March 1 to September 30, the Federal Nature Conservation Act bans cutting hedges or shortening them shortly above the ground. This rule also applies to shrubbery and other shrubs. A comprehensive cut back is therefore not permitted in the time window mentioned. Anyone who violates this law commits an administrative offense that can be punished with a fine of up to 10,000 euros.

Be careful with a light care or shape cut

Less extensive maintenance and form cuts are allowed all year round. But even with this milder type of pruning, caution is advised from early March to late September. Since birds like to nest in hedges, bushes and the like, as already mentioned, it is important to be considerate of the animals, even if they are pruned.

Before reaching for the scissors, all hobby gardeners should therefore check to what extent there is already a nest in the bush or in the hedge. If a nest can be identified, the pruning should ideally be postponed for several weeks in order not to unnecessarily disturb the birds during the breeding season.

Hedge trimming may be required

Carrying out the hedge in good time is especially important for all homeowners who may even be obliged to shorten their hedge. This can be the case, for example, in semi-detached houses and terraced houses, or in single houses if your own hedge overgrows on the side of the neighbor.

When cutting hedges, road safety has priority over bird protection. If, for example, storm damage means that a hedge has to be trimmed or removed completely between March and September for reasons of traffic safety, this is permitted. Nevertheless, in such a case, it makes sense to obtain the permission of the responsible nature conservation authority in order to be on the safe side.

Different rules for trees

When pruning, it is extremely important to differentiate between trees and hedges. The different municipalities in Germany have their own rules. If a tree is to be severely pruned or even felled, this is only permitted in many parts of Germany depending on the height of the plant with a permit. Anyone who is unsure should therefore ask the responsible local authorities before using a hedge trimmer or saw.