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How Close to a House Should You Plant a Tree

Trees can work wonders in your front yard. They can beautify your home’s landscape, add to its curb appeal, and even increase the home’s property value. You may be considering planting a tree or two for these very reasons. But before you grab the shovel and start digging, there are some things you should know.

How Close to a House Should You Plant a Tree

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. With more than three decades of experience in residential and commercial tree care, Mr. Tree will tell you exactly where to get started. The first thing is exactly how close you should plant a tree to your home.

There are several factors to consider when choosing a location for your tree. For instance, certain tree types are more amenable to being planted close to the home than others. If you’re looking to plant a tree to increase your home’s property value, shade trees are an excellent choice. A healthy, mature shade tree can add up to $1500 to your home’s property value. But shade trees are great investments for another reason as well. Well-placed shade trees that effectively block sunlight from your home can significantly lower your home’s air conditioning bills. These trees are essentially able to pay for themselves over time.

In fact, according to the Department of Energy, a well-landscaped home can produce sufficient energy savings to pay for itself in less than eight years. Deciduous trees planted to the south of your home can block the majority of the solar heat during the summer, but allow the sun’s rays in during the winter.

Likewise, certain tree types serve as windbreaks, preventing signs of wear and tear on your home while also reducing your heating costs. Evergreen trees, for instance, provide year-round shade, but also serve as a windbreak when planted to the north and northwest of your home. A South Dakota study showed that windbreaks planted to the north, west, and east of houses reduce fuel consumption by an average of 40 percent.

So now that you know what type of trees can be planted close to your home, it’s time to decide just where to put them.

You should take into account the tree’s size at maturity when deciding where to plant a tree in your yard. A good rule of thumb is to divide the mature spread of the tree in half. This is the minimum distance that the tree should be planted from your home.

The height of a tree can also help you determine how far away from your house the tree should be planted. Large trees, ones that grow to heights of 70 feet or more, should be planted at least 20 feet from your home. Medium-sized trees, those that grow up to 70 feet tall, should be planted at least 15 feet from your home. Finally, small trees that do not grow larger than 30 feet should be planted at least eight to ten feet from your home.

In addition to considering the height of a tree and its spread, you’ll also want to consider a tree’s root system. Overgrown roots can wreak havoc on a home’s foundation and also disrupt underground pipes. It’s best, therefore, to avoid planting trees with an aggressive root system too close to your home.

A tree’s roots can spread up to three times the width of its crown. Therefore, it’s important to place large trees an adequate distance away from your home so you don’t run the risk of the roots encroaching on your home’s foundation and causing structural damage.

In fact, there are certain types of trees to avoid because of their root systems. These include willow trees, poplars, cottonwoods, aspens, silver maples, Norway maples, and American elm trees, among others.

Smaller trees with shallow roots, however, pose little risk to your home. Japanese maple trees, for instance, are safe to plant relatively close to your house. Some small fruit trees and ornamental trees are generally safe as well.

In addition to considering the potential risks of planting a tree close to your home, you’ll also want to think about the aesthetic of the trees that you are planting. After all, a tree should enhance a home’s landscaping and ideally, add to your home’s property value. Generally speaking, large trees work well with larger homes, such as two-story houses. However, large trees will often make a small house appear even smaller. Therefore, it’s a good idea to opt for small or medium-sized trees if you have a smaller home.

Smaller trees tend to be versatile and also work well when planted in front of larger houses, since they can make such a house appear even larger. You’ll definitely want to factor in both the size of your yard and home when deciding what type of tree to plant close to your home.

Deciding where to plant a tree is only the first step in the process. Once a tree is planted close to a home, you’ll want to ensure the structural integrity of the tree by having it regularly serviced. Trees that are damaged or weak could potentially topple over. Therefore, it’s important that you contact a certified arborist to assess the health of your tree on a frequent basis.

If you notice a tree losing branches or if cracks and signs of rotting emerge, you should contact an expert immediately to determine if the tree needs to be removed. Regular upkeep and preventative care are essential to maintaining your tree’s health.

When in doubt, it’s best to consult with your expert arborists at Mr. Tree. We can provide advice as to what trees to plant in your yard and the best location for them.

While there are some general rules to follow, we can help you customize your yard landscaping to your unique tastes and needs. So give us a call and we’d be more than happy to help you plant a tree.