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What is this tree and is it safe to plant close to a house?

Hi, 

Firstly I'll put my hands up and say I'm incredibly inexperienced and just getting a garden for the first time.

I'm looking at planting some trees or plant to increase privacy along the boundary and there is one area that I need something but would sit quite close to the house (about 1 metre). Having read around I understand you shouldn't plant a tree close to the house as this can be dangerous, however I keep seeing examples including out and about walking around my neighbourhood, including the attached example. Is this not a tree or is there something I'm missing here?


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  • Would it be safe if I planted it in a planter? 
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,013
    As @pansyface says, tree roots, generally speaking, spread as far as the canopy of branches above ground.  You do not want tree roots invading your foundations or sucking moisture form the ground in which your house sits as it can cause subsidence, cracking of the walls, rupture of the damp-proofing.

    There are other ways of providing screening - trellis, fencing, pergola etc with or without climbing plants and/or wall shrubs - but the choice will depend on what you are trying to screen and whether it needs to be all year or just when you want to be outside yourself as well as whereabouts you are in the country and thus your general weather.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • zhongbaigezhongbaige Posts: 1
    edited November 2020
    I would not recommend planting trees close to the house because when it grows it can harm the house with its roots


  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,844
    Depends on what you mean by 'close' @zhongbaige,   and what kind of tree  :)

    The standard in that first pic isn't going to be happy for long there anyway, the way it's been planted @Firsttimegardener . Schoolboy error whoever did that  ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....



    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • edhelkaedhelka Posts: 2,350
    There are a lot of trees very close to houses in my area, most people simply keep them clipped and small. The roots are often also restrained by small planting areas like raised beds or concrete paths around. A small tree can grow in a pot but can't be restrained with a concrete wall footing? That doesn't make sense much, does it? Also, many "trees" grown in gardens are actually botanically shrubs and many "shrubs" are actually trees (but they are clipped to shape or growns as hedges). And there seems to be this thinking tree - no-no, shrub - ok.
    You would see many trees planted in gaps in pavement very close to houses in continental Europe. I guess professionals know what is safe to plant and what isn't. Obviously, the differences between various trees are huge.
    But every time this question appears here, nobody has clear answers (and nobody wants to risk giving wrong advice in a case like this). There are also many myths - like the canopy being the same size as roots - this simply isn't right. An apple on a dwarf rootstock would probably have bigger canopy than roots (and needs staking). On the other hand, my fruting cherry (standard rootstock, I guess) has roots three times as far as the canopy.
    There are also the "trees" like the one you posted, standard trees. They can be clipped to look and grow like that or they can be grafted. Many shrubs can be grafted like this but that doesn't make them a tree. A standard tree rose isn't going to be dangerous in any way (not to the foundation, the thorns are another thing). A standard bay tree is probably going to be clipped and kept very small but at least botanically, it is a tree. Theoretically, if someone neglects it, it could grow big and become a problem.
    TLDR There is no clear answer, every tree is different and not everything that looks like a tree is a tree.
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 12,465
    I think the best thing would be for you to post a couple of photos ( if you're happy to do that) ,giving some idea of the soil, whether it's sunny/shady etc. You may get some suggestions you hadn't thought of. Personally l would say that planting a tree of any description 1 metre from a house is not a good idea  :)
  • BijdezeeBijdezee Posts: 1,484
    I think the best option for your situation would be shrubs not trees. 
  • For an alternative viewpoint my brother has a large pear tree which literally grows against the side of his 130+ year old house. No subsidence and in fact the pear seems to help manage damp at that side of the house.

    I think it does rather depend on the tree and the house. Some trees can root very aggressively. I'd also wager that there's a difference between a heavy solid stone house and a modern light timber frame and SIP build.
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 10,435
    It also depends on the soil. Clay is more prone to shrinkage/swelling.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • It very much depends on the soil, and on how close the bedrock is to the surface.  In Finland, trees right next to the house are common - as is solid rock very close to the surface.


    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
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