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Bay tree - roots

Hi, Many years ago I planted a very small bay tree around 6 foot from my house, in a corner. For years it didn't do much, but suddenly it has seriously sprung into life and is now pretty much the height of the house (normal 2 storey height house plus loft). It's beautiful, healthy, produces great leaves for flavour, gives great screening for privacy and I really don't want to cut it down, but at the same time I don't want to risk the foundations of the house. I guess it's now around 18 foot tall. Am I taking a chance leaving it there? Should I be reluctantly removing it? I don't seem to be able to find much about the roots and how they travel, any advice would be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance


  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,364

    I've never heard anything about Bays and foundations.. and the fact it's at the corner means there is less house/root ratio.  Do you have flower beds between the tree and the house, with good soil you feed and water?  If so, you should consider changing that as I would encourage the roots to grow towards the house.. where as if you mulch and water on the other side of the tree, I would assume growing roots would go that way.

    Utah, USA.
  • LadysmumLadysmum Posts: 4

    hi Blue Onion. The bay tree is in the top corner of the garden, it is hemmed in to the north by the garden wall, to the west by the garden wall, and to the east by the house which is only 6 foot away. (There's a funny bit of the garden which goes back by the side of the house, not very deep or wide). We used to have some other herbs between the tree and the house, but the main one (a rosemary bush) suddenly died back, so we dug it out and then that was it...the tree just grew and grew. The tree is so wide now that the branches are brushing the side of the house, and if I stand in the upstairs room nearest to it, you can see branches near the window. I really do want to leave it if I can, as I say it's beautiful and healthy, but if it's a threat to the house I can't leave it. I managed to get in towards the middle of the tree yesterday and it seems to have one wide trunk for about six inches above the ground, and then it splits into two distinct trunks above that, each one probably about 6 inches in diameter. Many thanks.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,160

    Ladysmum, a bay can be cut back to keep it under control, if it's not too big at the top the roots won't be too extensive. I've cut mine to a sort of dome, about 9 foot tall. It looked a bit bald on top when viewed from upstairs for the first year but it's all lovely and green now. Mine is probably about 10 foot from the house. I'm hoping the suckers will eventually form a wider but not taller dome. It has always suckered in a big way, long before I cut it. It's a sucker from one in my previous garden.image

  • LadysmumLadysmum Posts: 4

    hi nutcutlet, ah, so if I get the tree pollarded, that should hopefully do the trick? Maybe cut it back to about 9-10 foot? I'd much prefer that to losing it. Obviously it's all my fault for planting things without reading the label.....! Many thanks

  • I've one at the bottom of the garden that used too be in a pot for around 2 years, I then planted it out in a herb garden and it formed lots of suckers. I chopped it right down to the ground and then moved it again to its previous position about 3 years ago, since then I have kept it toi a single stem and is now around 8 foot tall! It has plenty of space so I intend on letting it get as big as it wants now! I also have two standard balls either side of my door and another in the back garden that was left by the previous owner, it was in a large broken terracotta pot and formed of two twisting stems, one of these was dead but the other is thriving now in the ground! You cannot kill these shrubs!!!

  • LadysmumLadysmum Posts: 4

    hi Rhod Crompton, that sounds encouraging. I think I'll get it cut back but not cut down. Generally the feedback seems to be that it will thrive if we cut it, but the roots are probably not affecting the house. Thank you!

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