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Hedge is well positioned for a drubbing from snow plows: Fixer

It is one thing for sidewalk snow plows to tear up turf that can be replaced, but damage to a hedge is not so easy to fix.

And after several assaults earlier this year, Jim Glynn is wondering if his 15-metre-long cedar hedge can survive another winter of bashing from sidewalk plow blades.

Every year, we get complaints about plows peeling up grass. When we write about it, we always point out that boulevards belong to the city, even if homeowners maintain them.

Like it or not, the city can mess up its own property. And to be fair, damaged grass is often replaced with new sod in spring. As long as property owners help out by watering the sod, it’ll usually take root.

But when the plow blade wanders into the base of a hedge, as it has at Glynn’s Botany Hill Rd. home for many years, the cumulative damage could eventually kill it.

He planted a hedge to provide privacy about 35 years ago, running along the sidewalk and the back of his property.

Until Toronto’s boroughs amalgamated in 1998, he did his own shovelling and never saw a sidewalk plow on his street. The hedge flourished and grew to a height of two metres.

About a dozen years ago, the plows started coming. They chewed away at the bottom of the hedge, where it meets the sidewalk, and damaged vital branches.

“Agreed, my hedge abuts several inches onto the sidewalk,” he said. “I cut it back as tightly as I could without destroying it, but the plow did considerable damage this past winter.”

He asked the city if it the plow operator could lift the blade while passing his hedge, since he always shovels his sidewalk, but his request was denied.

“I may have to literally destroy my entire hedge to accommodate the city. They say that my hedge infringes on city property, so it is my responsibility to cut it back.”

STATUS: Hector Moreno, a city manager of road operations, said that aside from boulevards, a two-metre strip of land in front of almost all residential properties belongs to the city. It has a policy requiring property owners to keep at least 18 inches of the right-of-way clear of any obstacles. Moreno said it’s OK if people plant hedges or put up fences, but they should be aware that sidewalk plowing could cause unavoidable damage. Even if homeowners do their own shovelling, plows have to clear the same sidewalks to avoid liability issues, he said. Moreno suggested that Glynn try harder to prune back his hedge near the sidewalk, and that he’d talk to his colleagues about instructing plow operators to veer around it next winter.

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