Grass, weeds and shrubs
This page covers the maintenance of grass, weeds and shrubs on highways.
Management of shrubs, grass and weed growth within parks and open spaces, housing sites, schools and other council building may be different and the responsibility lies with the department or site outlined below.
- Parks and Open Spaces - Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure
- Housing Sites - Housing Services
- Schools – Each school is responsible for maintenance within their grounds
- Other Council Buildings - Contact the building user for advice
- Transport for London Trunk Roads - A12, A406, A1400
If the information on this page does not provide the details required please report the issue using the online form.
The grass verges are cut eight-times in the year, which means there are approximately four to six weeks between the cuts. The grass grows at different rates throughout the year, with the fastest rate being between April and June and during the rest of the year the grass tends to grow slower, but the flowers will continue to grow quite tall.
Grass cutting programme
The Sixth cut started on the 28 September and should be completed within a 5 week period and we will update the table below to show progression.
|Grass cutting ward||Completion|
|Monkhams||Complete 30 September|
|Bridge||Complete 7 October|
|Churchfields||Complete 14 October|
|South Woodford||Complete 18 October|
|Wanstead Park||Complete 19 October|
Grass cuts each year will vary, as some locations are managed differently for a specific reason. There are three main categories:
There are about 240 highway grass verges in the 22 Redbridge wards, covering 165,000 square metres. The verges are cut eight times each year on an approximate four to six-week cycle.
The cutting starts in March and generally is completed in November or December.
The programme is subject to alteration due to weather and ground conditions. Cutting is not carried out in heavy rain or if the ground is too soft due to waterlogging.
Cutting may be suspended in periods of prolonged hot weather when the grass dies back; this is to prevent damage to the grass and ground surface.
Rural Road verges
Verges adjacent to farmers fields and in non-residential areas (mainly in the Aldborough and Hainault wards) are cut twice per year, to maintain sight lines for motorists.
For safety reasons, this work is generally carried out using a tractor, with a cutting arm attached to it.
Redbridge Council is promoting bio-diversity schemes and wildflower meadows in the following highway locations:
- Nelson Road
- Overton Drive
- Station Road Barkingside
- Chigwell Road, adjacent to Dartnalls Field
- Wanstead Place
- Hermon Hill – junction of Cranbourne Avenue
- Sydney Road Monkhams
- Claybury Broadway - Claybury Bank
- Billet Road
- Fullwell Avenue to Caernarvon Drive Footpath
- Roding Lane South - Outside allotments
- Riches Road
- Mildmay Road
- Loxford Lane
- Ilford Lane
- High Road Woodford Green - Gyratory Roundabout.
- Dale Gardens
- The Vale
- The Drive Junction with Snaresbrook Road
- Chadwell Heath Car Park
The grass at specific locations in these roads is being left to grow to encourage wildflowers and grasses to sow their seeds, the grass was programmed to be cut and collected at most sites in July and again in November to improve the range of species the Grow Zones can support. Unfortunately, staff shortages caused by the pandemic meant that we prioritised other work and we will not be carrying out the July cut and will only cut in November.
We are monitoring the rates of growth and at 5 sites we are making a note of non-grass species. In April we noted the 32 different species, this increased to 49 in May 79 in June and 102 in July, the species are listed below and this shows the biodiversity benefit of not cutting the grass between March and July.
|Common name||Botanical name||Month first noted|
|Birdsfoot Trefoil||Lotus corniculatus||June|
|Black Horehound||Ballota nigra||July|
|Black Thistle||Cirisium vulgare||July|
|Blue Flax||Linum perenne||June|
|Bristly Ox Tongue||Helminthotheca echnoides||April|
|Brown Knapweed||Centaurea jacea||July|
|Burnweed (tbc)||Erechtites hieraciifolius||May|
|California Poppy||Eschscholzia californica||June|
|Cats Ear||Hypochaeris radicata||May|
|Common Borage||Borago officinalis||June|
|Common Burdock||Arctium minus||April|
|Common Chickweed||Stellaria media||April|
|Common Comfrey||Symphytum officinale||May|
|Common Field Speedwell||Veronica persica||April|
|Common Knapweed||Centaurea nigra||July|
|Common Marjoram||Origanum majorana||July|
|Common Mugwort||Artemisia vulgaris||June|
|Common Ragwort||Senecio jacobaea||April|
|Common Sorrel||Rumex acetosa||June|
|Common Teasel||Dipsacus fullonum||June|
|Common Vetch||Vicia sativa||April|
|Cow Parsley||Anthriscus sylvestris||April|
|Cow Parsnip||Heracleum maximum||June|
|Creeping Buttercup||Ranunculus repens||June|
|Creeping Cinquefoil||Potentilla reptans||April|
|Creeping Wood Sorrel (tbc)||Oxalis acetosella||July|
|Crow Garlic||Allium vineale||July|
|Dovesfoot Cranesbill||Geranuim molle||April|
|Dwarf Mallow||Malva neglecta||April|
|Dyers Chamomile||Cota tinctoria||June|
|European Corn Salad||Vaerianella locusta||May|
|Everlasting Pea||Lathyrus latifolius||July|
|False Barley Grass||Hordeum murinum||June|
|Fat Hen||Chenopodium album||July|
|Field Pepperwort||Lepidium campestre||May|
|Field Poppy||Papaver rhoeas||June|
|Fools Parsley||Aethusa cynapium||April|
|Garden Candytuft||Iberis sempervirens||July|
|Garlic Mustard||Alliaria petiolata||June|
|German Chamomile||Matricaria chamomilla||July|
|Grape Hyacinth||Muscari armeniacum||April|
|Greater Plantain||Plantago major||April|
|Greek Mustard||Erucastrum incanum||May|
|Green Alkanet||Pentaglottis sempervirens||April|
|Ground Elder||Aegopodium podagraria||April|
|Hairy Bittercress||Cardamine hirsuta||April|
|Herb Bennet||Geum urbanum||June|
|Herb Robert||Geranium robertianum||July|
|Hedge Mustard||Sisymbrium officinale||July|
|Hoary Willowherb (tbc)||Epilobium parviflorum||July|
|Lady's Bedstraw||Galium verum||July|
|Lesser Swine-cress||Lepidium didymum||July|
|Lesser Trefoil||Trifolium dubium||June|
|Milk Thistle||Silybum marianum||July|
|Musk Mallow||Malva moschata||July|
|Oil Seed Rape||Brassica napus||June|
|Ox-Eye Daisy||Leucanthemum vulgare||June|
|Oxford Ragwort||Senecio squalidus||June|
|Perennial Wall Rocket||Diplotaxis tenuifolia||June|
|Perforated St Johns Wort||Hypericum perforatum||June|
|Pineapple weed||Matricaria discoidea||June|
|Prostrate knotgrass||Polygonum aviculare||June|
|Radium Plant||Euphorbia peplus||July|
|Red Campion||Silene dioica||June|
|Red Dead Nettle||Lamium purpureum||April|
|Ribwort Plantain||Plantago lanceolata||April|
|Rosebay Willowherb||Chamaenerion angustifolium||July|
|Rough Star Thistle||Centaurea aspera||May|
|Salad Burnet||Sanguisorba minor||June|
|Shepherds Needle||Scandi pecten-veneris||June|
|Shepherds Purse||Capsella bursa-pastoris||April|
|Sow Thistle||Sonchus oleraceus||April|
|Spotted Medick||Medicago arabica||April|
|Sticky Mouse-ear Chickweed||Cerastium glomeratum||April|
|Stinging Nettle||Urtica dioica||April|
|Sweet Viola||Viola odorata||April|
|Viper Bugloss||Echium vulgare||June|
|White Campion||Silene latifolia||May|
|White Clover||Trifolium repens||June|
|White Dead Nettle||Lamium album||April|
|Wild Carrot||Daucus carota||June|
|Wild Clary||Salvia verbenaca||June|
|Wild Lettuce||Lactuca virosa||May|
|Wild Marjoram||Origanum vulgare||May|
|Wild Parsnip||Pastinaca sativa||May|
|Yorkshire Fog Grass||Holcus lanatus||July|
Redbridge Council operates a Framework Agreement Contract (FAC) for grounds maintenance works. All companies included on the FAC have been vetted and approved to carry out work on behalf of the London Borough of Redbridge. Contractor monitoring is carried out by both the contractor and the council, to ensure the schedule is adhered to and works are to the required standard.
The cuttings are not removed following the cutting operation, but are left atop the grass verge. During windy or wet conditions, the cuttings may blow off the verge onto the road and pavements. It may not be possible to blow the cuttings back onto the verge and the cuttings will be left on the road or pavement to disperse naturally.
All visible litter should be removed before cutting the grass verges and removed immediately on completion of the cutting operation. Litter on rural roads or on bio-diversity/wildflower sites, but the Council’s Street Cleansing Service works with the contractor on these operations, removing any exposed or shredded litter shortly after the cutting operation is completed.
Bulky items or fly-tipping will not be removed but cut around. The contractor is required to report any issues that prevent the grass from being cut to the council.
Where bulbs (mainly daffodils) have been planted in the grass, the grass is not cut until at least the end of May. This period allows the bulbs to flower and after flowering the bulbs need to be left for a minimum of six weeks to store energy in the bulb so it can flower the following year.
The following could potentially damage verges:
· vehicles parking
· utility or maintenance
· uneven surfaces caused by vehicle wheels
· excessive stones or debris left on the grass verge
Where the above occurs, areas of verge will be left uncut until it has been repaired.
The main way weeds are controlled on the streets is through the application of a weed killer during four treatments each year. All treatments, on hard surfaces (pavements, road gullies/gutters) or soft surfaces (shrubs, roses, hedges and tree pits), are carried out between February and December on a nine to twelve-week cycle
Weed treatment programme
We completed the first weed treatment on pavements on the 29 March 2021 and the second treatment on the 22 July 2021. Unfortunately, staff shortages caused by the pandemic meant that we had to prioritise other work, so we were late finishing the second treatment and late starting the third, and there is more weed growth on footpaths than normal.
The delayed third treatment has stated in Goodmayes and should be completed by the end of October and the table below will show the order and dates each ward was completed.
|Weed treatment ward||Completion|
|Goodmayes||Complete 20 August|
|Mayfield||Complete 8 September|
|Clementswood||Complete 10 September|
|Clayhall||Complete 28 September|
|Newbury||Complete 29 September|
|Valentines||Complete 5 October|
|Barkingside||Complete 5 October|
|Fullwell||Complete 6 October|
|Hainault||Complete 7 October|
|Fairlop||Complete 12 October|
|Aldborough||Complete 13 October|
|Seven Kings||Complete 15 October|
|Loxford||Complete 18 October|
|Ilford Town||In Progress|
A schedule is agreed between ourselves and the contractor prior to the start of the season. Any amendments during the year are agreed by both parties. The contractor provides a weekly update on the progress of the work programme. The contractor is also required to carry out an element of self-monitoring and submit the results to us. We then carry out sample monitoring of the contractors self-monitoring.
- Soft surfaces are treated with weed killer 3 times per year
- Hard surfaces treatment vary between 2 and 5 times per year
The frequency of treatments throughout the borough varies depending on the growth rate of the weed within the areas. Some areas experience a greater amount of weed growth than others, due to a number of reasons, including:
- neighbouring vegetation
- make-up of the road and pavement surface – weed growth is generally greater on paved areas than tarmacked areas
Unless you have the appropriate licence and direct approval from the council, it is against the law for anyone apart from the council's contractor to apply weed killer on public land.
The weed killer works programme is subject to change during unsuitable weather conditions, such as:
- during or immediately after rainfall
- high or gusty winds
- extremely high temperatures (above 30 degrees Celsius)
For the majority of roads and pavements within Redbridge, the weed killer is applied manually by a member of staff, who walks the street with the weed killer within either a knapsack on their back, or a lance, where the weed killer is located within the lance.
On rural roads (areas that generally do not have footpaths) and central reservations, a specially equipped vehicle is used to apply the weed killer as it is considered too hazardous to apply it manually.
The dead weeds are not generally removed once they have died, but disperse naturally. Where weed growth is prolific, the street cleansing team may remove the larger weeds when they have died. If the weeds have not dispersed after two to three weeks of the weeds dying then you can report them to the street cleansing team to have the weeds manually removed.
Types of weed killer
There are 2 types of weed killer used in Redbridge:
Contact weed killer
This controls weeds that it comes into direct contact with and is absorbed by the plant, so it also reaches the root system of the plant. It becomes inactive on contact with any other surface, e.g. paving or soil. This weed killer is used on both hard and soft surfaces. We use Roundup ProVantage which is a Glyphosate based weed killer.
Residual Weed Killer
This is used on soft surfaces only and is applied directly to the soil, where it creates a shallow barrier on the surface of the soil, that inhibits any seeds within that area, from germinating; this means it prevents weeds from starting to grow.
This weed killer is normally applied only once in the year. The success of this weed killer varies greatly, depending on weather conditions. Extensive or heavy rain can dilute the weed killer and wash it out of the ground. We use Pacaya which is a herbicide that contains flazasulfuron.
On occasion, a moss killer is also applied to areas where there is significant moss growth.
Timings can vary depending on the type of weed and the weather conditions. Generally, the weeds will take two to three weeks to fully die. However, grass tends to die a lot quicker and broadleaf weeds (such as dandelions) can take longer.
Some weeds are more resistant to the weed killer and may take much longer to die. In some cases, certain species of weed are removed manually due to their resistance to the weed killer.
Weeds take longer to die if the temperature is low (below 8 degrees Celsius) or high (above 30 degrees Celsius).
As part of our community gardening initiative, residents are encouraged to apply in December to adopt street tree pits for planting with wild flowers. The application period is over and we received an overwhelming response to adoption and over 1,300 tree pits have been adopted across the borough.
From February 2021 we will be planting replacement street trees with blue labels on them and we would like your help to adopt and water the tree outside your house without having to complete a tree pit adoption application.
To find out more about how to adopt and water a tree on the highway to help encourage tree growth and blossom in your area, please visit our Adopt and water a tree page for more information.
Shrubs, hedges and roses
Shrub pruning can be carried out twice per year, in the summer (June-August) and winter (October-February). Not every shrub will require pruning twice in the year. Shrubs are assessed prior to each pruning period to ascertain if they require pruning or not. Weeds within shrub are not removed but are treated with herbicide 3 times per year.
Shrubs are not pruned if they are in flower or if there are birds nesting within them. It is against the law to disturb a nesting bird during nesting season (generally between March and August).
Hedges are pruned once per year, if required, in the winter period(October to February), once bird nesting season has ended.
Roses are pruned once per year in February. Weeds within rose beds are not removed but are treated with herbicide 3 times per year.
Generally, the pruning clippings are removed immediately following the pruning operation and the surrounding area left tidy. On occasion, the clippings may be mulched and left on the bed, to allow the nutrients to return to the soil and aid future growth.
Dead shrubs can be removed but not replaced, we are considering a replacement planting programme subject to funding.
If utility (gas, electricity, water) companies carry out work that requires the removal of shrubs within the highway, the council work closely with the utility company on the reinstatement of the areas damaged and shrubs, during the planting season starting in November and ending in March.
To adopt a public space for community gardening, please visit our Spruce up your neighbourhood page and see the community gardening section for more information.