How to choose trees to be planted near buildings

One of the most influential factors to take into consideration when planning where to plant trees is how close they will be to any building(s).A building in close proximity to a planting pit has stringent implications on which tree species to choose and indeed may prevent tree planting from being a wise option. The following gives a brief description of why trees can cause damage to buildings and gives some guidelines to trees that may be suitable.

What are the problems associated with trees close to buildings?

The roots of trees have the potential to cause damage to building foundations especially in areas of heavy clay. This is due to the fact the uptake of water and nutrients by tree roots results in shrinking and expansion of soil causing movement and potentially subsequent damage. The trees that pose the greatest threats in this situation are fast growing trees that have a high demand on water and nutrients thus causing the greatest amount of movement due to the rate at which water is taken up from the soil.

In conjunction with avoiding fast growing and vigorous trees trees with a large maximum height are also to be avoided as the eventual height may well conflict with the property by blocking out light or taking over a particular area.When thinking about this as an implication in your planting scheme you should consider surrounding property as well as your own as you could be held liable if a tree on your property is deemed to have caused damaged further than your boundary.

The best trees to plant in close proximity to buildings are those that are technically considered to be shrubby in nature. They are therefore not very fast growing and are small in height at maturity.Trees that fit these parameters are as follows:

  • Photinia Red Robin
  • Ligustrum japonicum
  • Ligustrum lucidum Variegata
  • Amelanchier arborea Robin Hill

The above trees are considered safe to be planted at a distance of 3m + away from a property.

Much of the time when designing a scheme and choosing trees there has to be a compromise between what you might want your tree(s) to do and what is suitable for the area you are planting and of all the considerations the planting distance from buildings should be considered as having the utmost importance.