Having a tree too close to the house is dangerous as branches tend to move in the wind which can cause damage to your roof, broken windows, and even broker power cables.

Trees should be trimmed 15 f.t from over your house to prevent damage. If a tree trunk is too close to your home, its removal should be considered as it could crack foundations if left to grow.

Some other considerations such as proximity of your tree to powerlines will be looked at in more detail below.

before and after trimming branches over roof

If you have a tree with branches over your roof, it needs to be trimmed. In most cases, it is as easy as performing a canopy lift on the tree which is to remove the lower branches allowing clearance.

Removing these branches requires the skill of a certified arborist, as they have the skills and equipment to do so in such a way as to not damager your tree or home.

Leaving it to the local handyman could lead to irreversible damage to the health and vigor of the tree which can lead to more problems in the long term.

cutting branches over house

How close should branches be from your house?

The preferred least distance of the nearest branch from your house should be 6 to 12 feet.

Having trees and plants growing too close to your home can cause issues.

Since trees have deep roots that burrow under the ground and may dig into the foundation of the house which could cause real damage to your house in the long run.

Water damage is another problem you should look out for. Plants have moisture in them and this moisture can leach on your walls and beneath the siding. This will bring about mold in your home, which will then need remediation.

branches too close to house
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Clearance from trees to power lines

It is very dangerous for tree branches to be close to the power lines. Trees when in contact with the power lines can transfer electricity to the ground through their trunks. When a person touches such a tree they can be electrocuted in some cases.

If the wind were to pick up one day, a swinging branch can take down a powerline which could also be very dangerous.

Clearances are very important and as with roof clearance, 15 ft. is the recommended distance for service power lines to your home. Your city might have another standard for street lines so please check out this tree ordinance for more details.

tree beanches growing through power lines

How close should branches be from your roof?

Branches should be 10 to 20 feet from the house. 15 ft. is the sweet spot. This is to protect your house from damage, but the proximity to your house might also allow raccoons, rats, and other pests access to your home.

How to cut limbs overhanging house?

Proper care and maintenance are important on a regular basis including limbs encroaching on your home.

As mentioned, I do recommend using a local tree cutting service, but if you insist on doing the job yourself, you will need the following equipment:

  • A chainsaw or handsaw
  • A ladder
  • A strong rope
  • Personal Protective Equipment (Safety goggles, helmet, etc.)

The following are the simple steps you should follow when cutting limbs over your roof.

  1. Put your ladder against the building at 75 degrees against the tree lining up with the limb you intend on cutting.
  2. Climb the ladder and secure the ladder to the tree. You will also need to hire a harness to attach yourself to the ladder. Stop and just hire a professional to do the job if you can not get your hands on a harness.
  3. Throw a rope over the branch above and tie it to the branch you want to cut. Have someone on the ground holding the rope ready to lower it once cut.
  4. Perform a step cut which is the make a small bottom but 1/5th into the bottom of the branch. Then a second cut on the top of the branch. See the image below.
  5. Get your partner to lower the branch down slowly to the ground.
  6. Make a clean cut to the branch collar for your 3rd cut.
  7. Repeat this process until all branches within 15 ft. of your roof have been removed.
step cut techniqe

FAQ's

In most cases no. This falls under maintenance and not a claimable expense. You might want to double-check with your insurer, but normally they only pay when a branch has fallen.

An arborist will charge you between $250 and $750 to remove branches over your roof and home. The price varies depending on the number of branches and the size of your tree.

In a lot of cases yes.  A good way to measure whether your tree too close to house is to take the diameter of the tree trunk and multiply by 5. If the tree is within that distance then get it removed.

Ben McInerney
Author: Ben McInerney - Ben is a qualified arborist with 15 plus years of industry experience in Arboriculture. He ran a successful tree service before turning to writing and publishing. Ben is dedicated to providing users with the most accurate up-to-date information on everything trees.