Parks, landscapes and biodiversity
Harlow Council working in partnership with Kier Harlow Ltd manage and maintain Harlow’s green spaces, wildlife sites and landscape areas. Kier Harlow Ltd carry out all grounds maintenance and street cleaning operations for the Council to agreed service standards (pdf) in the following areas:
When will the Council’s grass outside my house be cut?
Kier Harlow Ltd aim to start cutting Harlow Council’s grass in March but if the ground is wet, they will delay until the machines can get on the ground without damaging the turf. The areas of grass in housing areas are cut thereafter every 17 working days until the end of September. (Open spaces, verges, and sports field adjacent to housing are cut at different rates). Open Space Grass Cutting (pdf)
Why is the grass long?
Grassed land away from housing areas, such as highway verges, non-sponsored roundabouts and many open spaces, is cut much less often. The aim in these areas is to allow grasses and plants a greater opportunity to grow and flower, giving a more natural appearance and more variety than close-mown grass. This costs less and will support more plants and insects, which will then support wildlife like insect-feeding birds. Strips alongside roads may need to be cut shorter to maintain sight-lines for traffic; and in some cases grass cutting is deliberately delayed to allow plants of particular wildlife interest to finish their growing cycle.
Why have you stopped grass cutting?
Grass cutting can be suspended during persistent wet weather conditions when there is a likelihood of causing damage, creating an eyesore or when the job cannot be done safety also if it is very dry and the grass is not growing then we come off. Further to this Kier Harlow Ltd come off for two weeks in the summer normally in July to do a summer hedge cutting round.
Can you repair damaged verges caused by car parking?
Please contact an Advisor at Contact Harlow for verge repairs.
When are wildflower meadows cut?
The meadow grass is usually cut once a year, and when the wild flowers have set seed. They are cut in accordance with good ecological practice to improve biodiversity and encourage wildflowers. Some areas will not be cut at all, though a path may be cut though for walking.
How often do you strim around lampposts and signs?
In July 2014 changes were made to improve the extent and frequency of grass cutting in Harlow following concerns of long grass, particularly around lampposts, benches and signs. Through other savings being made an extra team, of four people - two working in the North of Harlow and two in the South of Harlow, were employed this grass cutting season to help carry out strimming around lampposts, benches and signs where mowers cannot reach. Strimming in future years will carried out after mowing
Why don’t you collect the grass cuttings?
Kier Harlow Ltd do not collect grass cuttings because it takes more time, more equipment and uses more fuel. It is not as environment-friendly as mulching and would more than double the costs of providing the service. Kier Harlow Ltd use mowers to cut grass equipped with special mulching blades, the grass is shredded finely and blown into the turf. This returns nutrients to the soil and helps retains moisture.
What happens to other green waste?
All other woody cuttings from Kier Harlow Ltd maintenance of hedges, shrubs and trees are collected together and shredded, pulverised and composted. This material is used as a soil conditioner for the town.
How often is weed spraying carried out on paths and hard surfaces?
Paths, pavements and other hard surfaces are sprayed two times a year; once in May and June, and again in mid August and September. Pedestrian operated spraying equipment is used on pavements, quad bikes or mini-tractors are used on roads and cycle-tracks. Dead weed is not removed but is allowed to breakdown naturally.
What chemicals do you use to kill weeds?
Kier Harlow Ltd use of a Systemic Biodegradable herbicide which is absorbed by leaves and degrades on contact with the soil, the herbicide is applied through a knapsack sprayer or a CDA sprayer. The active ingredient is glyphosphate, often sold in garden centres as “Tumbleweed”. It is inactivated when it comes into contact with soil, it is not easily leached and is unlikely to contaminate ground water. Glyphosate is generally considered by experts to be harmless to the environment.
What precautions are taken when spraying?
Kier Harlow Ltd only use government approved herbicides and our teams are certificated to apply pesticide properly and safely. All the chemicals are securely stored according to regulations and we maintain careful records and use signs when it is appropriate to do so. Sometimes they use ATV’s (All Terrain Vehicles) or mini-tractors to spray large areas such as cycle tracks and kerbs.
When will the shrub bed outside my house be pruned?
Kier Harlow Ltd start pruning Harlow Council’s shrub beds at the beginning of October and work continues through to March the following year. Kier Harlow Ltd work across the town on a programme, so please bear with us yours could be cut in March rather than October.
Is it ok to cut back shrubs on Council land so that I can carry out work to my boundary?
Maybe, please arrange a site visit with one of Kier Harlow Ltd, Landscape Officers who will advise you what course of action can be taken. You can arrange a visit by calling 01279 446425.
When will the hedge outside my house be cut?
Kier Harlow Ltd will cut Harlow Council's hedges between October and March to avoid disturbing nesting birds. Hedge vegetation will be cut back to behind the backline of the footpath edge and any debris or arisings will be removed and disposed of and backlines will be swept. Obstructions to footpaths and sightlines are cleared during summer where there is any encroachment on a programme throughout the town. Hedge vegetation will be cut back to behind the backline of the footpath edge and any debris or arisings will be removed and disposed of and backlines will be swept. In instances were there are nesting birds any pruning will be done by hand to minimise disturbance.
You’ve cut the side, but when will you cut the top?
All hedge cutting except facing back off footpaths and sightlines in the summer is completed between October and March. Hedges are cut once a year but sides facing onto footpaths causing an obstruction will be faced back in the summer between June and September.
My neighbour is a private owner who has a tall hedge that shades my house and garden, can I get something done about it?
If there are two or more evergreen trees in a row that affect light levels to a property, then the hedge should be maintained at a specified height. The height varies depending on many criteria. Resolution should be sought between neighbours but Under the High Hedges Legislation You can ask the Council to mediate if a resolution cannot be sought. If the issue is with a Council hedge then we will assess each case individually. More information on high hedges.
Which trees are Harlow Council responsible for?
Harlow Council is responsible for all trees on Council owned land including highways, housing and open spaces. Kier Harlow Ltd manages these trees on the Council’s behalf. Trees located on private land are the tenant or owners responsibility. Frequently Asked Questions about trees on private land
A tree on Council land needs routine general maintenance, will you do anything?
We do not carry out ongoing routine maintenance of trees to maintain them at a certain height or to limit their water uptake or for any other general reason. If this is required, consideration will be given to their total removal.
I think a tree is dangerous, what should I do?
If you see a tree on Council or public land in Harlow which you think is dangerous and an immediate risk to public safety, please report it to an Advisor at Contact Harlow or out of hours and in an emergency please contact Kier Harlow Ltd on 01279 446536 who will inspect the tree and take necessary remedial action straight away.
What happens when trees are blown down in storms?
When storms or high winds occur we usually receive many reports of damaged trees on Council land that could be dangerous. Kier Harlow Ltd have emergency crews on standby and will assess the level of urgency of each reported problem. They will then draw up an order of priority and deal with them as soon as they can.
There is a stump left in the ground after a tree was felled. Will it be removed?
No. Stumps will not be ground out unless they present a specific health and safety issue in or adjacent to a footpath.
A tree is overgrowing a public footway. What can I do?
Report it to Contact Harlow and Kier Harlow Ltd will cut back any obstruction caused by Council trees as a priority. If the tree is on private land the Council may need to serve a formal notice on the owner to get work done. However, if it looks as if there is likely to be any delay we are likely be instructed to do the work and the Council will recover the cost of the pruning from the owner at a later date.
A tree on Council land outside my house needs pruning. What can be done?
Register your concerns with Contact Harlow. Kier Harlow Ltd will inspect the tree within four weeks and if we agree that work is needed, we will get it done within the next four months. Kier Harlow Ltd will only carry out tree works where the trees pose a public safety risk or a risk to property. Trees that are dangerous will be prioritised. We do not generally prune trees for issues relating to falling leaves, fruit or blossom or because of issues relating to light. Problem trees will be considered for removal if they are causing an aggravated nuisance. If surface roots are causing a problem, these can be carefully pruned back if they are no larger than 2.5cm in diameter (the size of a 10p coin) with secateurs. For roots that are larger than this, advice should be sought first from Contact Harlow.
Do I have a right to light?
No. The only way you can have a legal right to light is if you have had uninterrupted light for at least 20 years which is changed suddenly e.g. by the erection of a new building, trees grow too slowly for this law to be applicable for tree related light issues.
I am worried that a tree is damaging my property. What should I do?
Council occupiers should raise their concerns to an Advisor at Contact Harlow. Private owners should contact their building insurer and explain your concerns of any damage to them.
My neighbours tree is overgrowing my property. What can I do?
You cannot force your neighbour to prune back any branches overhanging your property. In the first instance it is always best to discuss the problem directly with them but if your neighbour isn’t willing to cut them back, you are entitled to do so yourself. You can only prune back as far as your own boundary. Going beyond is trespass which can be treated as a criminal offence. The branches you prune off are technically your neighbour's property and you have to offer them back, although they do not have to accept them. You are then responsible for disposal.
Can I have a tree planted outside my house?
Not on Council land, unless you wish to sponsor the tree, then Kier Harlow Ltd will consider planting a tree providing the location is suitable and there are sufficient resources available to maintain it in the future.
I have a tree and I want to prune it or remove it. What should I do?
If the tree is in a Conservation Area and not protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) you must notify the Council in writing of the tree works giving six weeks notice. If you wish to carry out works to trees protected by a TPO you must apply to Harlow Council. Unauthorised work to a tree protected by a TPO or within a Conservation Area is a criminal offence and liable to prosecution. How to notify Harlow Council of tree works - TPO or within a Conservation Area
If your tree is covered by a Covenant Control Order and you want to remove it you should apply for permission to the Covenant Control Officer though Contact Harlow. More information on Covenant Control
Can I get some advice about trees?
Yes. If you require general advice regarding trees or related issues you can speak to an Advisor at Contact Harlow and a tree officer may be able to contact you with free advice.
When are bins in parks emptied?
Bins in parks and open spaces are emptied on a programme. You can report an overflowing bin that needs to be emptied to Contact Harlow.
I would like to report a bench seat that is broken, how do I get it repaired?
Please contact Kier Harlow Ltd repairs call centre on 01279 446666 and ask them to arrange a repair.
Can I have a bench seat installed in a park or public place?
If you are prepared to fund the initial purchase and providing there is a suitable site and enough money to maintain it, Harlow Council can accept requests for bench seats in public areas. You will need to agree to conditions about paying and the type of bench to be installed by contacting an Advisor at Contact Harlow.
Report an issue
If you wish to report broken glass, dog fouling, fly posting, fly tipping, dumped rubbish, graffiti or litter please report your issue online
For trees, shrubs or grass maintenance issues on Council land you can contact an Advisor at Contact Harlow.
For out of hours emergencies (for example a fallen tree on a highway) you can contact Kier Harlow Ltd on 01279 446536.
Harlow Town Park
Local nature reserves and wildlife sites
Harlow Marshes nature reserve is located on the northern outskirts of Harlow along the Stort navigation. The reserve consists of three sites Maymeads Marsh, Marshgate Springs and Parndon Moat Marsh which provides a range of wetland habitats that can be accessed along way marked paths and boardwalks. In Harlow there are also 42 County Wildlife Sites and other sites of wildlife interest amongst the green spaces and green wedges across the town.