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Should I Cut Down Trees Too Close To My House?

I’ve got a professional certification in using chainsaws, but I tell you now – if you’ve got a tree growing too close to your house that needs cutting down, it’s a risky business to go it alone if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Trees growing too close to your house can damage the foundations or roof, and encourage invasion from insects, rodents, and birds. However, cutting large trees down yourself can be dangerous, so always get professional help if you decide upon this course of action.

In this article, we’ll discover why it’s bad to have trees too close to your home, which types of trees are better than others to have growing near your property – and the signs to look out for when a tree is ready to be cut down…

Should I Cut Down Trees Too Close To My House?

Is It Bad To Have Trees Too Close To Your House?

Typically, you do not want trees too close to your home because they can trigger many types of damage that can be pretty devastating. While trees may provide some shade for your home that can help control its temperature (in both winter and summer), trees can also cause:

  • Severe foundation damage due to their roots 
  • Home damage from falling limbs 
  • High risk of home devastation if the tree falls 
  • A high risk of invasion from pests, like termites and hornets
  • Woodpeckers and other pest birds to invade your yard 

It is essential to balance the pros and cons of having trees close to your home. Some people may ultimately find that temperature control is too excellent of a benefit to ignore. Others may enjoy having animals and birds in their yard.

However, you can get these benefits with a tree that isn’t too close to your home for safety. As a result, it is crucial to know when trees are too close to your home.

How Far Away Should a Tree Be From Your House?

Generally, you want to keep your trees far enough from your home to prevent damage. The exact range will vary based on tree species and other factors. However, there are a few times when any tree is undoubtedly too close to your home. Unfortunately, your trees are dangerously close to your house:

  • When a tree is less than 20 feet away from a home or building 
  • If limbs or the tree overhang the house at any point 
  • When animals use your trees to invade your home’s roof 
  • If roots pop out of the surface near your home

You typically want to keep your trees at these safer distances while also getting some shade. Tall trees should more easily block out the sun and have long roots that may be more prone to damage your home.

Pruning is vital here: think of it as giving your tree a haircut. When you cut away excessive trees branches and limbs, you help make your larger trees safer for your yard. 

Just as importantly, you need to know what trees provide maximum benefits and are not safe to plant too close to your home. But, of course, not all trees are made equal, and some can be closer to your home than others without causing severe issues.

So let’s take a look at which species are suitable for you.

What Trees Should Not Be Planted Close To a House?

Many trees should be kept far from your home (at least 20-40 feet or more) due to their aggressive roots, tall form, and potential home damage. Just a few of the trees you might want to take out of your yard or near your home include:

  • White Ash – A very fast-growing tree with very lateral roots that are more likely to damage your foundation and cause serious issues. 
  • Oak – Though this tree is one of the strongest and most beautiful you can plant in a yard, they are also devastating on foundations. Keep all oaks over 30-40 feet from your home. 
  • American Elm – This tree’s roots tend to grow very shallow and near the ground’s surface. As a result, they are more likely to impact your home’s foundation. 
  • Poplar – Though beautiful and capable of attracting beneficial insects, the poplar also has very invasive roots that will cause damage to your home and plumbing. 

Many of these trees may also impact your sewage system if their roots end up snaking towards your septic tank. Unfortunately, even though you want nothing to do with the waste in that tank, trees are not quite as picky as people.

Thankfully, the trees below are nowhere near as damaging when planted closer to your home.

What Are The Best Trees To Plant Near a House?

The best trees to plant near home are short and compact, with root systems that rarely damage home foundations. They should also be quite decorative and flower nicely to produce a decent amount of shade for your home. Just a few of the best options for this situation include:

  • Crabapple Trees – These trees get no more than 20 feet, feature roots that rarely damage foundations, and rarely suffer from diseases that could cause more issues. 
  • Japanese Maple – This species creates an attractive look, doesn’t damage foundations, and should be safe reasonably close to your home. 
  • American Holly – This species is a low-maintenance option with an evergreen appearance that looks great in just about any yard and for most homes. 
  • Cornelian-Cherry Dogwood – If you want a simple and easy-to-maintain tree that won’t damage your home, this species is an attractive option.

Finding the best trees for your yard can ensure that you are satisfied with their look and appearance. However, you also need to make sure that you take the time to remove old trees that may be dangerously close to your house and get rid of them before they become a severe issue.

How Do You Know When a Tree Needs To Be Cut Down?

Cutting down a tree in your yard must be approached with caution. Mature trees, even if they’re damaged, are living creatures and must be treated with respect.

Once you cut the tree down, it is gone for good, even if you leave the stump – any new growths will never reach the height of your old tree in your lifetime. As a result, it is crucial to know when it is time to cut down and tree. Just a few instances in which it is necessary include:

  • Foundation damage is spreading through your home 
  • Other home structural damage keeps occurring due to falling tree limbs
  • Bark is falling off of your tree in rough patches 
  • Woodpeckers start attacking your tree looking for food 
  • Worms and termites begin crawling throughout your tree
  • Limbs and branches start falling off regularly 
  • Leaves fall off the tree and refuse to grow back 
  • Cracking noises ring through the air when your tree sways 

In this situation, it is time to get rid of any tree in your yard. However, it is particularly critical if a tree is close to your home. After all, the last thing you want is an oak falling on your home and crushing your roof or causing any other types of damage.

But what can you do to handle this process? Should you get out your axe, sharpen it up, and call your best friends for a tree removal expedition? Probably not! And here is why.

Cutting trees next to your house
How do you know if a tree near your house is a problem?

How Do I Cut Down a Big Tree Next To My House?

If you believe you have a big tree too close to your house, don’t get out your saw blades and start measuring. Even if you’ve already cut many trees off your property and feel you could handle these steps, it is better to call in a professional for your tree removal needs.

Trying to manage this process yourself is more likely to damage your house due to your inexperience and the potential risk of falling limbs on your home

For example, it is far too easy for amateurs to cut trees so that they may fall backward onto a house and create a severe problem. Even when you cut at an angle to take the tree away from a home, it could still fall back on itself if you aren’t careful.

Various safety steps are necessary to decrease this risk, especially trimming the top of the tree to keep limbs from falling as the tree topples. 

So please don’t try to be like famous lumberjack Paul Bunyon and clear your big trees yourself. Instead, call a tree removal expert and give them the information that they need.

For example, they want to know what kind of tree is located around your house, how close it is to the home, and if your house has any damage. They’ll then take various steps to carefully remove the tree and even get rid of the stump using numerous processes, allowing your home to be safe from falling dangers. 

Final Words

Here at Take a Yard, we want you, your family, and your home to be safe at all times – so if you’ve identified some trees from the ‘bad list’ that are growing too close to your house – do not take them down yourself if they’re very large and overhang your property.

As mentioned, I’ve got a professional chainsaw certification and even I wouldn’t attempt to cut down a big tree near my property – it’s just too risky.

Over the years I’ve heard too many horror stories about do-it-yourself lumberjacks to recommend this course of action to you in good conscience, so always hire a professional and stay safe folks 🙂

Mark H.

Homeowner and property investor Mark H. aspires to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >