If the wrong type of tree is allowed to grow too close to a house it can cause foundational issues.

A tree is too close to a house when the distance is within 10 times the trunk diameter. So if the trunk of a tree is 10 inches in diameter, the distance to the closest foundational wall should be no closer than 100 inches or 8.3 feet.

If you are concerned the roots of a tree are causing damage to your foundations, you will need an arborist to inspect and provide solutions such as a root barrier or complete tree removal.

How close is too close for a tree to a house

How close can a tree be next to a house?

The safe distance a tree can be to your home will depend on the size of the tree. We are looking at the trunk diameter and not the height of the tree. By measuring trunk diameter we can determine the size of the root ball and potential issues the roots may cause as they grow.

Ten times the trunk diameter is the ideal distance between the tree trunk and the home. Any closer and the rest of the tree roots damaging your foundations is increased greatly.

As some trees have more invasive roots than others, it is recommended that you get the advice of a professional arborist.

What happens when a tree is too close to the house?

tree belong house

There are many reasons why you may want to plant a tree close to the house. It could be for shade, to help cover an unpleasant view, or to serve as a noise screen. Whatever the reason, doing it safely is very important.

Several things could go wrong if a tree is too close to the house. They include;

1. Roof or gutter damage from branches

The most common issue is tree branches rubbing or hitting root tiles or gutters and causing damage. Tree branches are very flexible and will move in high winds. 

Using a qualified arborist for roof clearance is recommended on a bi-yearly basis to prevent this style of damage. A 6 – 8 foot clearance from your roof will ensure safety.

2. Damaged foundation

Very large, mature trees with deep and spreading roots can damage the foundation of our home if planted too close. This is especially so for houses built on clay soils and in temperate climates because trees are one of the major reasons for soil drying and subsidence, which leads to changes and movements in foundations.

This change and/or movement in the foundation can alter the structural integrity of that home and if not stopped may cause a lot of irreparable damage to the foundation and the house in general.

3. Risk of the tree falling on a house during high winds or hurricanes

For people who live in areas that are at high risk for strong winds and/or hurricanes, planting a tree close to your house will be a very bad decision. Between 1995 and 2007, 407 deaths were recorded. These deaths were caused by wind-related tree failures in the United States. Among 72 deaths from Hurricane Sandy, 20 of them were attributable to falling trees.

In addition to falling trees during hurricanes directly causing deaths and serious injuries, fallen branches may interfere with overhead power lines and cause considerable electrical power outages. This could be avoided if the tree is planted at a point far away from a building that it causes minimal damage if it were to fall.

How do you tell if a tree will hit your house?

How do you tell if a tree will hit your house

There are many signs to look out for if you have trees close to your home. These tell-tale signs help prevent disaster as they allow homeowners to take action before any serious damage can be done.

Many things could make trees unhealthy and therefore unsafe, it could be due to diseases, overcrowding, root damage, pest invasion, etc. Here are some tell-tale signs to know that your tree is likely to fall and may hit your house;

1. Dead branches

Multiple dead branches are usually a bad sign when it comes to trees. It shows that the tree isn’t healthy and has to draw resources from other parts to survive. If this is not treated or removed, the tree will eventually die and may fall on your house. If you notice a tree close to your house has started shedding many branches, get it checked out immediately.

2. Hollow stems/stems with large hollows

The stem is part of the tree that offers vertical support; if this support beam is weak, the integrity of that tree is compromised. Check trees close to your house for hollow sports in their trunk. If you notice any, you probably need to get the tree removed before it falls on your home.

3. Leaning trunk

As explained earlier, trunks give vertical support to trees and any malfunction in them can be a big danger sign. If the trunk of a tree begins to lean, it may be a sign that the tree is about to fall. If it is close to your house, make sure to remove it safely before it falls by itself.

4. Pest-infested tree

Pest-infested trees close to your house need to either be treated or removed immediately. For high levels of invasion, removing the tree may be safer especially if the pests have eaten into the main support of the tree i.e. the trunk. Do not let trees that are not structurally sound stand near your homes as they can fall at any time and cause tons of damage.

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.