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Does my tree need to come down?

I have recently moved and am slowly but surely working through what I have in my new garden. I absolutely adore trees however do have a concern about my magnolia tree and if it is planted too close to the house.

It is the pale creamy white goblet flower tinged pink at the base and the trunk is 22” in circumference and is at the moment about 10 ft tall but according to neighbours it has been pruned by the previous owners and myself this year. It is planted up against a single brick wall  which divides the from and back garden and is  approximately 2m from the house and about 1m from the garage which is not attached to the house and is single brick wall construction. It isn’t near the drains (about 3m to first manhole) but I understand the water pipes, gas and electric may run up the drive which is close to the tree.

I am getting conflicting advice from tree surgeons and garden centres if the tree is safe, my survey report said take it out but they also listed many other plants to come out (I don’t think the surveyor was keen on gardens) . My garden books only gives information regarding size not location, it says the tree will grow 10 ft however I have seen other magnolia trees the same as mine in the area and they must be at least 20 ft.

Please can you help and give advice as I don’t want to cut it down unnecessarily.


Kind Regards Maria Stafford.




  • OnopordumOnopordum Posts: 390

    Can't give you a technical or legal opinion, but I personally wouldn't have any concerns about the Magnolia, especially if you keep it pruned to about that size.

  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923

    basically if it could fall over and hit your house that's how far the roots will reach, and as you said you've pruned it and the previous owner might have pruned it then it should be a lot bigger. There is a very good chance the roots are into your houses foundations at the least.

    If the house survey said to take it out then i'd say that would be the correct call.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,887

    Once you've had a professional opinion and you disregard it, you can no longer plead ignorance if it falls and does damage - so whether or not we think it's ok to stay, a Qualified Surveyor has given his or her professional opinion that it has to go ....... so I don't think you have any choice ... you certainly wouldn't be covered by any insurance.  

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 11,126

    Surveyors are a bit like GP's - they have a good general knowledge about buildings, but little else, that's why surveys always say you should get the electrics checked by a qualified electrician and the boiler/plumbing checked by a qualified plumber.
    I suspect they know even less about magnolias, so they're just covering their backsides.
    It looks a lovey mature specimen and would be a shame to get rid of it for no reason.
    If you're able to get the opinion of a good tree specialist I'd go with what they say, but you'll have no recourse to the surveyor if it did cause problems.

    Billericay - Essex

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,249

    There is a related problem in that removing the tree could cause more damage than leaving it where it is. There have been quite a few cases where tree removal has caused the soil to  subside and damage foundations. You really do need the opinion of a proper accredited tree surgeon before making any decision.

  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,261

    I agree with Berghill.  A proper tree surgeon will know the answer;  but personally I'd be doubtful that a magnolia could damage drains or foundations.  My experience with surveyors is that they warn you about the things they can see, whether or not they are actually a problem, to cover themselves - and frequently miss other things which they should have noticed but didn't, like the damp in my house...

    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,249

    Don't tell me about Surveyors. We had our second house supposedly surveyed. Strange how the last person to sign the keys out was me when I looked round the house prior to buying. No mention of the rampant woodworm or the fact that one could push ones finger through the 'wood' of the window frame out into the open air.

    In any case why would a House surveyor have any great knowledge of trees?

  • Mary370Mary370 Posts: 2,003

    My thoughts on it are that if the trunk is 22", it's been there a long time, it has been kept to the height it is now, and if you intend keeping it approx. the same height, I can't see how it can cause any more damage than is already done, if any.  As mentoned above removing it at this stage would probably cause a lot of damage to the garage wall, path etc.

    It is a beautiful speciman, I wouldn't worry about it.

  • Adding a little more, a tree of that girth will also need planning permission to have it felled. In fact technically a tree with that girth will require planning permission to prune it every year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    However I'd just carry on what your doing, it looks great and if it's not causing any problems by now it won't.

    My personal experience of tree surgeons is that most want the job of felling your tree whether it's dangerous or dead and decaying or not......Fell it.  Then there are others who don't want to fell your tree unless it has already caused serious visible damage to a building or could cause injury to people or livestock.  They would rather prune your tree every few years, they care more about the tree than you or your building!!!!!!    Finding an unbiased tree surgeon somewhere in the middle of the two groups is not easy.

    Jealous, wish I had a tree like yours, look after it for us.

  • TopsoiledTopsoiled Posts: 113

    There is a lot of opinion regarding surveyors that seems I'll informed. The tree is in an unsuitable location and the surveyor who is working on behalf of your mortgage company has provided an opinion as to whether or not you should keep the tree. If you go against expert advice you will take on the risk and cost of any damage caused, whether by the canopy or root system Or the tree falling over. This in theory could breach your mortgage conditions and in extreme cases could lead to repossession - although I would have thought in this instance extremely unlikely. That's a worse case scenario and far beyond what is likely to happen. Put it another way - would you plant aMagnolia tree here?

    You do not need permission to cut or remove it unless protected by a TPO or if you are within a conservation area , and then only if the trunk is over 7.5cm at 1.5 m height. If not in a conservation area or protected by a TPO you do not need a felling licence (from the Forestry commission) as this is in a garden. Felling licences are rarely applied for now anyway. Although the tree would be unlikely to be causing significant damage now and you may keep it pruned, this may change in the future and you have been told that it is the surveyors opinion that it should be removed. I'd remove it and replace with something suitable for that location. Please bear in mind you have asked a legal and construction based question on a gardening website where the general opninion would be to keep trees because we like them. The advice going to be biased and based on opinion and not necessarily fact.

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