Trees growing too close to a house can cause multiple problems, including roots growing into and damaging the foundation, tree canopies that overhang a home's roof and cause roof damage, and trees overhanging a home blocking gutters with falling leaves. Trees growing too close to a home can pose a danger during storms.
How Can You Tell If A Tree Is Too Close To A Home's Foundation?
Experts recommend planting trees at least fifteen feet away from a home's foundation. For larger trees that may reach as much as sixty feet tall, the distance should be increased to twenty feet from the foundation and other landscape features.
Some trees, such as the aspen species, have aggressive and invasive root systems and need to be planted in wide-open spaces to avoid damage to home foundations, driveways, fences, and sidewalks. These trees need to be planted in well-drained and well-irrigated soil to encourage the roots to grow deeper into the ground and cause less damage.
Larger trees can also pose a risk to the home with branches that hang over the roof. These branches can cause the gutter system to become clogged with leaves and twigs. They can also scrape against the roof as they sway in the wind, damaging the roofing and causing roof leaks. These trees can also drop branches on the roof during storms and cause serious damage to the home.
Homeowners should do some research about the tree they want to plant to make sure it is right for their needs. Research the tree species, its growing habits, its weak points, and issues it may cause as it grows older.
Note: A tree's roots want moisture and will grow toward moisture and nutrients. The soil under a home's foundation is dry and "unattractive" to tree roots unless there is a water leak from plumbing lines or sewage lines. Then, tree roots can find that soil attractive unless the leaks are fixed promptly to eliminate the moisture.
Tree Roots Grow and Spread Out Far From the Tree Trunk
The first step in protecting your home and its foundation is to understand how tree roots grow. The reach of tree roots can be determined by the size of the tree trunk. For each inch at DBH, or diameter measured at four and one-half feet above the ground, the roots will spread up to one and a half feet away from the trunk. So, using this calculation, a six-inch tree trunk at DBH (diameter at breast height) can mean roots extending out in every direction from the trunk up to nine feet.
Tree Roots Look For Water
In order to live, trees must find water with their roots. There are species that seek water more forcefully than others and cause more damage. The availability of water plays a part in root development. If a good supply of water is nearby, the tree will not have to extend its roots to find it. One example of this is the aspen tree, whose roots can be very invasive when seeking water. The roots seeking water can buckle sidewalks, damage foundations, and do other damage.
Should You Trim Tree Roots?
Trimming tree roots is not the way to limit root damage. Trimming or cutting off tree roots can kill the tree or encourage yet more roots to grow. It would be much better to call a tree service to investigate the tree root problem and offer professional advice for the best solution.
Trimming and Pruning A Tree Canopy
Controlling the tree canopy is as important as limiting root spread. Properly trimming, or having an expert trim the trees on your property, will help avoid damage from falling limbs or branches scraping the roof. Learning about the species of the trees near your home will tell you what steps to take to keep each tree healthy and avoid property damage from overreaching roots and branches.
Trees that will reach a maximum of thirty feet tall should be plated at least ten feet from buildings.
Medium trees that will grow to a maximum of seventy feet tall should be planted at least fifteen feet from any fixed buildings or houses.
Trees that will be taller than seventy feet should be located at least twenty feet from a house or other structure.
Don't Forget the tree specie's canopy size at full maturity. Plant the tree far enough from buildings so its mature canopy size will not overhang buildings. If the canopy size will be twenty feet across, plant the tree at least ten feet, or half its canopy size, from buildings. That way, the tree can reach its full canopy size without doing damage.
Tree and Root Removal
Botched trimming of the canopy or root cutting, tree disease, or storm damage can cause a tree to die prematurely. Once badly damaged, diseased, or dead, the tree must be removed to prevent the risk of falling and causing serious property damage. Trees that were planted and matured before you bought the property can be located too close to buildings, driveways, or sidewalks and need to be trimmed back or removed.
Insurance Companies May Not Pay For Tree Falling Damage
If you do not take care of diseased, damaged, or dead trees promptly and they fall, causing damage or injury, the insurance company may refuse to cover the damage. Insurance companies have clauses in their home insurance policies excluding damage caused by neglect or disregard.