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Am I planting my tree too close to the house??

On many different home inspections I find that people don’t keep vegetation away from the house.  Many times I find that they have purposely positioned plants too close the foundation so it provides a pleasing look to the front and sides of the house.  I strongly recommend that all shrubs, trees and plants be positioned away from the house.  The moisture from the irrigation systems in time, will cause the foundation to spall (become flaky and break away) or bring a white, salty-like appearance (efflorescence) to the face of the concrete near the plant.

What if the tree is small?

Even I, a couple of decades ago, thought I had planted a sweet acacia tree far enough away from the foundation but it has still caused problems with spalling of my foundation and has littered the roof in ways that I didn’t anticipate.  As you plan your positioning of young, and small, plants and trees, keep the vegetation away from the  house.  If you have to ask if your tree is too close to the house, it probably is.  The tree won’t stay small for long and will cause possible problems with your foundation. Many times I have seen tree roots heading for water sources under the pad of a home, growing larger over the years until it literally “heaves” the concrete pad up and forms a crack under your tile floors.  You can see the activity as clear cracks in the tile or fissures in your grout.  If you have a carpeted surface, these issues aren’t apparent but could exist underneath, allowing an entrance for termites.

What about planters close to the house?

It’s a good idea to not have planters that hug the house.  That provides a ground contact point with the foundations that can allow water to enter the house and cause damage over the years.  The same holds true with ivy that cling to the outside walls of your home.  It always looks good climbing the side out your stucco walls but it is a breeding ground for water and insect penetration and causes actual damage to the stucco.

In conclusion, if you have to ask “Is my tree too close to the house?”, it probably is.  Make sure to keep the vegetation away from your home!