Leylandii: The Debated Hedgerow

Thoughts and musings

Leylandii: The Debated Hedgerow

Lewis | February 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

Leyland cypress, commonly referred to as leylandii, is a tree that is very common in the United Kingdom; there are  55 million leylandii in the country, and with a further 300,000 sold by vendors each year, that figure is on the rise. They are very popular for hedgerows, as their thick growth promotes privacy for homeowners. However, these plants have a capability of growth of up to a full metre per year, even in poor plant growth areas, where the soil may have a nitrogen deficiency, for example. As a result, disputes have arisen between neighbours over leylandii hedgerows that have grown too tall, as they overshadow a garden, and potentially starve other plants of sunlight, water and ultimately nutrients that they desperately need. Moreover, disputes can have arisen perhaps due to an eyesore on one neighbour’s behalf. In 2005, it was predicted that over 17,000 people in the UK were engaged in an argument over high hedgerows.

Whatever the reason, debates and arguments being neighbours have ensued, and it hasn’t always gone well, and in one case, it was even fatal…

There is even laws against the leylandii and their owners who let them grow wildly without trimming them back; it falls under the 2005 Anti-Social Behaviour Act, which enables people to complain to the authorities who have the power to have them cut back. Nevertheless, this law has not stopped some disputes, that realistically, went way too far for too long. A dispute Christine Wright had over leylandii with her neighbours in Norfolk ended in 2008, a full 24 years since it began! This may seem extreme, but sadly, there’s more. Another leylandii dispute ended with the death of Llandis Burton in Powys, Wales. The former Environmental Agency officer had a dispute with his neighbour, who shot him. Burton was 57.

It is quite incredible that a plant can have this sort of effect on people. They grow very quickly, and no one can deny they are useful as hedgerows; it’s a primary reason why they are so popular. But if you do own leylandii, please keep them trimmed.