Whether the roots are growing protruding the foundation, or the canopy is large enough to graze the house, that tree has grown too close to your home.
Depending on the species and maturity of the tree in question, there are a few distinctions and options to explore before considering tree removal as a definitive solution.
How Do You Know If A Tree Is Too Close To A House’s Foundation?
Generally, a tree should be planted at least fifteen feet away from the foundation of a home. For larger, overstory species (taller than sixty feet), that distance should be increased to at least twenty feet from foundations and landscape features.
Trees with invasive and aggressive roots like the aspen species need to be planted in wide-open space to avoid foundation, driveway, fence, and sidewalk damages. Planting such trees in well-drained and well-irrigated soil will entice the roots to grow deeper in the ground, often preventing such damages.
Larger trees often pose a second threat to homes when their branches hang over the roof. Besides clogging rain gutters and downspouts with leaves and debris, these branches, swaying in the wind, can cause severe damage to the roofing, while self-pruning species like eucalyptus can inflict catastrophic losses when branches fall onto the home.
Before planting a tree in your yard, research the species, its growing habits, and potential issues it may cause as it matures.
Note: Tree roots grow in search of moisture and nutrients. The soil beneath a home’s foundation is typically dry and “unattractive” to tree roots. However, leaks in the water supply or sewage lines can make that soil very attractive to tree roots if not promptly fixed.
Tree Roots Grow Far from the Trunk
Understanding how tree roots grow is important to protect your home and foundation. The reach of the tree roots is usually determined by the size of the trunk. For each inch at DBH (Diameter at Breast Height – diameter measured 4.5 feet above ground), the roots extend up to a foot and a half away from the trunk. With that calculation, a six inch trunk at DBH means the roots can extend up to nine feet away from the trunk in any direction.
Tree Roots Seek Water
The life of any tree depends on its root’s ability to find a water source. The ferocity at which tree roots accomplish this depends as much on the species as it does the availability of water. A great example is an aspen tree. It’s roots are extremely invasive, and will grow out and under structures very quickly, buckling concrete and foundation walls in the process.
Trimming Tree Roots
Not so fast. Before you go slicing into a tree’s roots, call on a tree service to evaluate the situation and provide the best solution. Otherwise, cutting into large roots will leave the tree susceptible to infestation and disease, while cutting the smaller ones only delays their inevitable nature of growing back.
Also note that if the roots have grown beneath your driveway or home’s foundation, that itself has become part of the tree’s structural integrity. Cutting and removing those roots may allow the tree in a future storm to topple into your home.
Trimming and Pruning Your Tree Canopy
Properly pruning and trimming your tree will help to avoid damages caused by limbs repeatedly striking or falling onto your home. Knowing your species mature size – how large your tree will become – will help you determine other steps to take – if necessary.
When determining how far away from the home to plant a tree, take the following into consideration:
For Small Trees – Trees reaching 30 feet tall or less should be planted at least 10 feet from the home and other structures.
For Medium-Sized Trees – A medium-sized tree is one that reaches a maximum height of 70 feet. These trees should never be planted closer than 15 feet to a fixed structure or home.
For Large Trees – Trees that surpass 70 feet in height should be planted at a minimum of 20 feet from a home or property.
Canopy Size Matters Too – Knowing the tree’s average canopy size at full maturity of the tree is another way to determine a safe planting distance from a home. If the canopy has an average diameter of 20 feet, it should be planted at least 10 feet (half of the canopy size) from the home to allow the tree to reach its full spread.
Tree and Tree Root Removal
Innocent missteps when attempting to cut roots or over prune a tree may lead to the decline of your tree’s health and ultimate death. This scenario often results in the tree toppling during a storm, and potentially causing severe structural damage or fatalities.
INSURANCE TIP: If your tree was damaged, diseased, dying, or dead, and you knew but did nothing about it, when that tree falls and damages your property, don’t look to your insurer for help. Your neglect or disregard violates your policy, thus the tree damage is not covered, and the claim may likely be denied.
Do yourself and your tree the favor of seeking the advice of a tree service that is trained to identify tree problems and offer tree care, trimming, or removal solutions.
Todd’s Marietta Tree Services