Trees lend a quaint and charming aura to everything they surround. It comes as no wonder then that people love planting trees near their houses. In addition to the beauty of your landscape, trees near houses are natural energy savers.
Trees and shrubs can also act as wind tunnels, directing the breeze into your house, keeping it cool. When they are planted to provide shade to your air conditioning condensers, their efficiency increases giving long-term benefits.
With strategic planning, you can plant deciduous trees in sunny patches to shield your house from the harsh summer sun while allowing the warm winter sunlight to enter. Trees also provide privacy from neighbors and reduce noise from surroundings.
With all these benefits, it can be tempting to dig out your gardening tools and start planting, but it is vital to research and plan all aspects of this project before you start. Selecting the wrong tree or planting at the wrong distance can cause considerable damage to your property in the future. Use the services of expert arborists in your area to make informed decisions about your landscape.
The little baby trees and shrubs that you plant around your house will soon grow big and tall with strong roots that you need to prepare for. Here are some risks that you should take into account before jumping in:
Risks of Planting Trees Near Houses
Roots, even when they are young, are constantly on the lookout for water and nutrients in the soil. They move and extend into the ground causing disturbances in the soil. The impact of these disturbances depends on the type of soil in which the tree is planted.
Soil that mainly consists of loose dirt and pebbles merely shifts when the roots extend, allowing them to move inside freely. Soil that is composed mainly of clay, for example, tend to compact under pressure. So when the roots move, this type of soil becomes denser.
Weather conditions also influence the effect trees have on clay soil. In heavy rains, roots may expand as they absorb water and in droughts, roots may shrink as the soil dries up. Both these situations can damage the structural integrity of the soil.
Concrete is a popular building material owing to its long life, versatility, and affordability. However, when concrete settles in the ground, it causes the surface to become dangerous and uneven. These surfaces are more likely to shift and crack which may affect the overall structure of your home. In extreme cases, support beams may shift, walls may sink or crack, and ceilings may become uneven.
Large trees near houses can cause concrete structures to become imbalanced due to their powerful roots. Roots can also leach water from the soil under the foundation, causing the structure to settle and sink unevenly. Although trees are rarely the direct cause of concrete settlement, roots can penetrate a building’s foundation through pre-existing cracks.
Even if the trees had nothing to do with the concrete settlement, homeowners and insurance companies routinely fault them for the damage.
Trees near houses are potential fire hazards, providing easy access for flames to enter houses through vents.
Roots of trees can potentially penetrate leaking underground drainage pipes. This leaking water in drainage or sanitary pipes can encourage root growth in the direction of the leak, eventually obstructing water flow.
Trees too close to your house could damage your house due to falling branches and, in some cases, toppling trees.
Safely Planting Trees Near Houses
Choosing the correct type of tree for your landscape is essential. Trees that frequently drop messy fruits or seed pods can give a dirty appearance to your house. Trees susceptible to wind breakage should be planted far from the house to avoid any damage by falling trees or branches. In general, trees that are native to your area have a better chance of withstanding insect infestations and any weather conditions it may face. Keep these situations in mind when you decide what you plant near your house.
The root spread of a tree is an important factor in deciding if a tree is right for you. It is a common misconception that a tree can develop roots as wide as it is tall. In reality, they can grow up to two or three times the tree’s height. If your yard cannot make space for the matured tree roots, you might want to choose a smaller tree.
Another thing to consider is the rooting tendencies of the tree. Trees like willows and elms have aggressive root tendencies, spreading their roots as far as they need to find water. This type of tree is notorious for infiltrating plumbing systems and damaging foundations. They should generally be avoided. Instead, trees like oaks and sugar maples that have slower rooting tendencies should be considered.
Large trees make tall houses look more dignified but make small houses look smaller. Medium or small trees make both tall and small houses look bigger. Visualize how you want your landscape to look after the trees mature when selecting the right trees for you.
The rule of thumb is that large trees, over 70 feet tall, should be planted at least 20 feet from the house, medium-sized trees — up to 70 feet tall — should be planted 15 feet from the house, and small trees — under 30 feet tall — should be planted 8 to 10 feet from the house.
Trees near houses look beautiful but come with a lot of risks. Improperly planted trees could damage your plumbing, driveway, roofing, and the overall structural integrity of your house. Thorough knowledge and planning of every aspect of this project are crucial before taking any action. And after all of this, it is important to take proper care of your trees to keep them healthy and safe.
Ask a reliable tree service to help you avoid any hazards that you might have missed.