Impact of Trees and Gardens Too Close to Buildings

Does it Really Matter If There is a Tree Close by to a Building?

Although trees play a significant role in our environment, sometimes they turn out to be the cause for the destruction of the buildings. It can either be a direct damage which affects the structure of the building or an indirect damage impacting the soil moisture levels. It is essential to find out the reasons behind the building damage because once the root cause of the damage is identified the next course of action can be planned.

Take a Look at Few Important Facts

  • Not all trees result in damage.
  • The roots of the trees that spread up to three times the height of the trees seldom affect the modern buildings.
  • Some types of soils such as clay soil can absorb a large amount of water post rainfall making the ground sticky and heavy. During summers they can also become hard which results in shrinking and cracking of ground.


Trees Close to Your Property Can Cause Structural Damage Due to Subsidence

A characteristic of many clay soils is that they swell in volume when they get wet and retract when dry. Clay soils tend to cause structural damage since they have a high shrinkage potential. Four storey and above buildings with shallow foundations, especially those constructed before 1950 are at a higher risk.

Drain Damage

Tree roots can sometimes mess around sewer and storm water pipes. Attracted by condensation that forms around drains, tree roots can dislodge the underground pipe work. Mostly the roots can get into the drainage system through faulty joints or cracked pipes. Once in, they flourish rapidly and sometimes result in complete blockage of the drain. However, tree roots can hardly crack through a properly installed and well-maintained pipe.

Physical Damage

Trees can damage the property from underneath and above. The branches of the trees damage the roofs and guttering of the building. The buildings built on clay soil are at a higher risk as in summers they can cause cracks in the walls and floors. During winters and rainfall, they push these cracks that lead to heaving.

Cause and Control:

The clay soil shrinks maximum during summers and this process is termed as “seasonal soil moisture deficit” as generally such soils regain moisture post winter rains. These continuous seasonal changes in soil result in subsidence of the foundations and structural cracking. Such cracks probably develop around windows and doors where 5-10mm of movement is ideally needed before cracks can develop. In long run, permanent soil moisture deficit can develop if it continues getting dry year after year. Cutting down trees on such soils can sometimes lead to heaving.

Deep strong foundations will not allow the roots to penetrate.

A well-built and maintained drain won’t allow the tree roots to spread and cause harm to them.

Ways to Minimize or Prevent Damages

If you wish to plant a new tree in your yard, select a slow-growing tree species with less aggressive rooting tendencies. Do consider the size of the yard as well. Global warming being a major concern, it is time for the over cautious insurers and councils to think of other productive measures.

A particular tree might be at risk; this is never predictable as there are a lot of factors that affect subsidence. Hence, it is wise to take well-thought steps before taking any action.


Factors to Consider About Trees Near Houses and Other Buildings

In most cases, trees around the buildings will not cause damage. However, they might cause severe damage after long dry winters.

The physical threats posed by trees are either caused by falling limbs, structural failure of the main trunk or falling of trees due to heavy rains and storms apart from subsidence.

In case you own a tree near public highway or a building it is wise to get a professional survey done once in every few years. This will help you to analyze the tree’s overall health and determine if there is a need for pruning or felling.

The reports can be useful to negotiate with insurance companies and other public bodies.

Tree Legislation

The proprietor of the land is responsible for the trees on his / her property and is liable for any damage caused. It is wise to check with the Local Planning Authority whether a Tree Preservation Order is in place before you plant trees.

Want to know the impact of trees and gardens being too close to buildings? Need a solution to manage the trees? Contact us today. At Arkle & Co we provide comprehensive Engineers Reports and take care of all the necessary Council Permits and Inspections. We are fully insured and are members of the HIA. Our work is of the finest standard so much so that we put a 15-year guarantee on it.

Call us on (03) 5253 1977, 0409 186 179 or 0403 072 329.

You can also mail us at  Alternatively, you can also contact us through our online contact form.

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