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Trees, hedges and grass verges

Grass verge cutting

We only cut grass verges for safety reasons, not appearance.  Clippings are left on the verge as the sheer amount means we can't collect them.  Leaving them is also good for the environment, as nutrients get passed back into the soil.

Roadside verges are cut for road safety purposes to maintain visibility at junctions and to provide room for people to walk on the pavement.  We have two grass cutting schedules for our roads - one for roads in urban areas and another for rural roads.

We cut grass verges along the majority of Norfolk's roads between May and September each year.  Public rights of way are dealt with separately.


Norfolk County Council is responsible for trees growing on adopted highway verges. However in almost all cases, the boundary hedges and trees next to roads are the responsibility of the adjacent landowner. We have a direct responsibility to ensure that our trees do not pose a danger to the public or property. We address this risk in our Tree Safety Management Policy.

When you report a tree that is causing a danger or an obstruction, we will carry out an inspection and if we find a problem we'll either contact the landowner responsible and ask them to arrange for their hedges/trees to be pruned or, for our trees/hedges, we will arrange the necessary work.

Tree inspection courses

The Lantra Basic Tree Survey and Inspection Course is the equivalent of Level 1 and is now offered by EasTec UK Ltd.

For details and booking information visit EasTec UK Ltd. (opens new window)

Roadside Nature Reserves

Norfolk's roadside verges stretch for thousands of miles and are such an integral part of the landscape that it is easy to take them for granted, yet many verges contain plant species that, although once common, are now nationally rare or scarce.

To help to protect them, these special sites are designated Roadside Nature Reserves under the Roadside Nature Reserve Scheme, and are individually managed to benefit the plants and animals that live there.

There are currently 224 Roadside Nature Reserves in Norfolk, with a combined length of almost 53 miles, and new verges are designated each year.

Roadside Nature Reserves are demarcated with posts which identify the stretch of special interest.

Most Roadside Nature Reserves (RNRs) are cut at the end of the summer when the plants have had a chance to flower and set seed. They are cut using a tractor mounted suction flail, and the clippings are removed from the site.

Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Wildlife Trust are actively working on The Roadside Nature Reserve Scheme, which protects non-statutory wildlife sites, like RNRs, and aligns with the County Wildlife Site system. Find more information on Roadside Nature Reserves.

Weed control

Some weeds spread quickly and can cause a lot of damage to hard surfaces, which is costly to repair. We spray weeds on adopted roads and pavements, and also deal with ragwort, thistles, nettles, brambles and giant hogweed on roads.

Following a public consultation in December 2022, Norfolk County Council Highways will only carry out one weed treatment per year, commencing in 2023. This treatment is weather dependent and will be applied in late spring/early summer. We treat weeds with an environmentally friendly weed killer, which works on contact with weeds and is harmless to humans and animals. It is approved for use by the EU and the HSE Chemicals Regulation Directorate. The weed killer that we use is no stronger than products sold at DIY stores.

Report a problem with a highway grass verge, hedge or tree

We cannot help where the affected road/pavement is private or unadopted, or where the problem is not considered to be urgent (eg unsightly or simply overhanging but not causing any obstruction).

We sometimes receive reports of verge erosion in rural areas.  It's not illegal for drivers to use verges, and normally the grass will recover in the spring.

Please be aware that we only cut grass for safety reasons, not appearance.

Report a problem

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