Everyone dreams of having a home with the perfect curb appeal, which usually includes a few trees to either side of the home and maybe a couple more as accents in the front. Trees truly add beauty to a landscape, but you need to be careful when planting them close to your home’s foundation.
Choose the right trees and measure carefully to help prevent problems like foundation cracks and shifting – and prevent you from having to hire a tree removal service to remove them a few years down the road.

How Do Tree Roots Damage Foundations?

Trees – especially large trees – have extensive root systems. A tree’s roots can extend in a circle with three times the diameter of its crown. In other words, a tree that is 40 feet wide could have a root system that’s 120 feet wide. Most roots are contained in the top four to five feet of soil, which is where your foundation lies.

Plant a tree too close to your foundation, and its roots will grow alongside and underneath the foundation. As the roots exert pressure on the foundation, they may cause it to crack, which could lead to moisture leaks and the array of problems – from mold growth to insect infestations – that come along with foundation leaks.
Tree roots also absorb moisture from the surrounding soil, which can contribute to the soil shifting and reducing foundation stability.

How Far From Your Foundation Should You Plant Trees?

The larger the tree, the further from your foundation you must plant it. These are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

Large trees over 70 feet tall: 20 feet away
Medium trees 20-70 feet tall: 15 feet away
Small trees less than 30 feet tall: 10 feet away
The roots of a large, 70-foot tree planted 20 feet from the foundation may still have some contact with the foundation, but at this distance, they won’t exert enough pressure on the foundation to cause problems.
Keep the location of your home’s sewer line in mind when choosing a planting site, too. Trees planted too close to a sewer line can invade the line, leading to blockages. Plant water-loving trees, like willows and birch, at least 20 feet from the sewer line. Plant smaller trees and shrubs at least 10 feet away.

What Trees Can You Safely Plant Near Your Home?

Some trees are safer to plant near your foundation than others because their roots are not as sprawling and invasive. The following are three types of small trees that do well close to the home.

Japanese Maples
With their scarlet leaves and small stature, these trees are easy to maintain and only grow about one to two feet per year. There are multiple varieties, which range in mature height from 8 to 30 feet tall.
Crabapple trees produce gorgeous flowers in the spring and red fruit in the fall. There are numerous varieties to choose from. The Adams crabapple is known for its dark pink flowers and glossy fruit; it matures to about 20 feet tall. The Anne E. crabapple has white flowers and grows to about 12 feet.
American Hornbeams
If you’re looking for a more traditional tree, plant an American hornbeam. They’re related to birch trees, but they grow slowly and keep their roots contained. In the fall, these trees turn a vibrant orange-red. Their dense foliage will add a little shade to your front yard.
Trees can add beauty to the area immediately around your home, but you need to execute caution when choosing your trees and choosing your planting sites. If you need help caring for your new trees or removing previously planted ones that could be damaging your foundation, contact the experts at Community Tree Service, Inc.