TPO and mature Sycamore - to buy or not to buy

My husband and I are about to purchase a house with one substantial Sycamore in the garden with a TPO. We have delayed the exchange while we wait for the council's tree expert to visit and discuss pruning. Are there any questions you would advise asking him? We will be looking for a local tree surgeon assuming we proceed.

 Thank you


  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,820


    Roots do more damage than tree, overhanging branches. Once you have a TPO you cannot cut them off if at a later date if you want to open up the garden so check. And get it in writing

  • Thank you!


  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    Opinions about sycamores vary, but are generally negative. Sycamores are not ancient native trees, but were introduced into the UK a few hundred years ago. Their seedlings can become a pest. They also cast dense shade. See, for example:


    It sounds as though the property in question has a big tree, whose appearance may be appreciated by neighbours (which is why there is a preservation order on it).

    I wonder why you want to prune it. It sounds as though you're not keen on the tree.

  • We didnt know the tree existed until last week. It is not on any of the plans and yet it is mature and probably 50 foot high. It was rather a shock as we are buying the house of plan so didnt really want a tree but do not know what to ask. We are worried about light and shade in the garden

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    In the road where I live there are (were) a lot of large trees. None of them have TPOs. When new people move in, they often cut down the tree in front of their house. I think it's a shame, but I can understand why people want to do that. A big tree limits what they can grow, and the amount of light in their house.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,889

    One of the problems will be from the surface roots - it will be difficult to have flower or veg beds where the roots are, and shade will also be a problem.   Is it to the North, South East or West of the garden? You will also have to rake the leaves every autumn and either make leafmould for the garden or otherwise dispose of them.

    On the plus side a tree will attrack all sort of birds to your garden - we have two large ash trees at the bottom of our garden, and they are always full of birds. image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • Our house faces south west and the tree is 7.8 metres away on the boundary parallel with the house back wall


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,889

    That's quite close, the surface roots will spread over most of the garden.   If I'm right the tree is either on the south-east or north-west boundary.  If it's on the Northwest then it won't shade the garden too much, but if it's on the southwest boundary it'll keep most of the morning sun off the garden if I've got it right image.  It wouldln't suit me - I'd think long and hard about it if I were you .... sorry.

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • image

  • Investigate who applied for the TPO. It might have been the builder, in order to get planning permission, in which case you are up against it, or one of the neighbours - possibly across the road - so that it would mask the new houses.

    TPOs can be overturned, but you have to make a calm and considered case. In another 20 years this thing could be in through the bedroom window, you'd have to have the lights on all day, and the garden would be wholly devoted to one plant.

    You must try to get this Order quashed, as the house will be increasingly difficult to resell.

    I'm not a great fan of buying unseen off plan.

  • The tree is substantial and mature now. I wouldn't be too surprised if it is full height now. The first branch doesnt start until about 2.5m up from the ground.

  • 50ft is a young maturing tree. It could make over 100ft and will spread very wide as it ages.

  • Susannah, please take what is being said very seriously. Ask the council's expert how old he thinks the tree is and how much larger it might grow. Ask him whether the roots are likely to reach the house and damage the drains or, worse, the foundations. Consider whether you want to cultivate the garden (you will have difficulty) and whether any patio might be pushed up  by roots. This happened to my son. Also consider the resale value of the house - how many potential buyers will be put off by the existence of the tree? If you pull out now, you will (I assume) still have to pay solicitors' fees, but you could lose more if the value of your house is reduced by the fact of the tree. I don't know whether you have to get a survey done if you buy off-plan, but you could get a surveyor to look at the tree and advise on its possible effect on the house. Sorry to be so negative, but please be cautious. This is about your future.




  • discodavediscodave Posts: 510

    I hate, loath and detest sycamore trees. They self seed everywhere and they are huge solar eclipsers. My neighbour had hers pollarded a few years ago but in the last 3 years it has grown to at least 70ft tall & now blocks the sun from my garden from 2-5pm. 

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,067

    Something on your property that you have no control over. You have to deal with the local council if you want to touch it. Doesn't sound that great to me


  • BrummieBenBrummieBen Posts: 459

    Sycamore trees are a pain, they self-seed and then grow so damn quick. They are also very thirsty and will quickly find sewer lines. In my street there are quite a few rented properties, sycamores seed in the gardens then grow because the landlords never bother to sort the back gardens out. Before you know it, 4 30ft+ trees in the space of 5 or 6 years. We also have a superb specimen of a eucalyptus growing in someone's back garden, must be near 70 feet and still going. That's the thing about trees in city gardens, they simply aren't suitable, they end up too big for the garden and they affect everyone else. My next door neighbours had a trembling popular in a garden 10ft' x 40 ft, sold to them by woolworths, it was at 35ft after 7 years, should have seen the shock when I told them it would continue to 70 or 80ft. It came down, still having fun with the suckers though.


    On topic, if I had a large sycamore with a tree preservation order on it on somewhere I'd be thinking of buying, I wouldn't buy simple as. The tree will cause enough problems now, and those problems will only increase as time passes.

  • Afraid I agree.

  • RachelizaRacheliza Posts: 7

    We moved into our house fully aware (can't miss it!), of the enormous ginko tree in our neighbours back garden. To paint the full picture we are in a terrace of tall Victorian town houses, with small town gardens which face NW. Our neighbours themselves wanted to either have the tree removed or significantly pruned. Our Council have slapped aTPO on it and by early afternoon, it blocks out all the sun. It is as tall as a 3 storey house and a matter of metres away. Beautiful tree planted in completely the wrong place! If I was you, I would think twice. I wish we had.

  • Sounds like the tree was there before the houses.

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,168

    Insurance! House insurance companies are increasingly asking if there is a tree taller then 5metres (16 feet!) near to the house and that then affects your premium.

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