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How to Spot and Prevent Encroaching Vegetation Around Your Home

Front yard with shrubs and large leafy trees

As much as you want to make your yard look beautiful with lush vegetation, it’s important to understand how trees and plants can negatively impact the structure of your home and property.

From branches to roots, allowing encroaching vegetation around your home to run wild can cause problems with your plumbing, foundation, and walkways.

Plus, it’s always important to consider how your trees and plants can affect your neighbour’s property.

If you’re concerned about how invasive and encroaching vegetation can affect your home, here is some information on how to spot and prevent these issues.

Common Issues With Encroaching Vegetation

Those beautiful trees that provide luscious shade and beauty to your yard could be causing unseen damage to your home.

Here are some common issues associated with encroaching vegetation.

Tree Roots and Your Foundation

Tree roots can threaten your home’s foundation by taking away moisture in the soil that is necessary to support that foundation. Loose, dry soil can cause an imbalance between the soil and the foundation.

If tree roots are growing too close to your home, they may cause the following issues:

  • Cracks in the foundation floor

  • Uneven door and window frames

  • Floor buckling

All of these problems are caused by shifts and tilts in the foundation.

Tree Roots and Your Driveway and Walkway

If you notice your driveway or walkway starting to shift, it’s likely that a tree root is growing underneath. This can lead to cracks and bumps running along with the concrete as well as buckling concrete (which can lead to injury).

Tree Roots and Your Plumbing

Tree roots can also negatively impact your home’s plumbing system by growing into pipes in order to access water. This can lead to significant issues and costly repairs.

Signs of root interference with your plumbing include:

  • Slow-flowing drains that don’t clear with flushing treatments.

  • Clogged drains that won’t clear with a plunger, drainer cleaner, or other treatments.

  • Changes in water pressure.

While these can be symptoms of many issues, it’s best to have a professional plumber inspect the problems to determine the underlying cause.

If they are being caused by tree roots, it’s important to have a professional landscaper or yard maintenance crew inspect and address the issues.

Tree Branches

Overhanging tree branches can also pose issues and should never touch the house. They can cause problems with your shingles and downspouts.

Branches can start to grow under shingles and cause them to separate. This separation can result in water penetrating the area and causing damage.

Branches can also grow into eavestroughs, causing them to plug, as well into small cracks on the side of the house and cause the cracks to become larger.

Trees and their branches can also damage both window panes and window frames if not maintained properly. Long limbs, dead or decaying limbs, mold, and insect infestation can result in branches falling onto or into your home.

Encroaching Vegetation and Your Neighbors

It’s not only your home that can suffer the ill effects of encroaching vegetation - your neighbors may not appreciate your flora infiltrating their property.

If the trunk of a tree is located in your yard but the branches extend to your neighbor’s property, you are the legal owner of the tree. However, your neighbor is within their rights to trim any branches that hang over their yard.

However, if you have any vegetation that allows leaves, acorns, or fruit to fall onto your neighbor’s property or clog their gutters, they are responsible for those natural occurrences and can trim the branches accordingly.

(FYI, any fruit that falls on your neighbor’s property belongs to your neighbor.)

Taking your neighbor into consideration when it comes to encroaching vegetation is not only courteous but also ensures that your plants and trees are not going to cause damage to their property.

For instance, if a tree branch falls from your tree onto your neighbor’s home and is considered an “Act of God”, you are not responsible. However, if that tree and its branches were not properly maintained (i.e. the tree was dead or diseased), the fault may lie with you.

Take care to remove any dead or decaying branches that may fall into your neighbor’s yard and respect their wishes if they choose to trim away any vegetation that impedes their landscape.

How to Prevent Encroaching Vegetation Around Your Home

Now that you know what to look for and how encroaching vegetation can negatively impact your home, here are some ways you can prevent tree roots and branches from causing damage:

  • Install root barriers before planting trees. Root barriers drive roots to grow deeper underground and away from your foundation, plumbing, and pavement.

  • Cut the roots out. Just be careful when doing this since some trees will die if they lose a small portion of their root.

  • Cut down the entire tree. If a tree is decayed or causing too much damage, you can remove the tree and its entire root system.

  • Regularly trim branches. Look for branches that are decayed or growing too close to your house. These should be trimmed regularly, especially in the fall and spring.

  • Be aware of encroachment issues when planting trees and other vegetation around your home. A small tree today will grow to be a large tree tomorrow. Avoid encroachment issues altogether by planting trees a suitable distance away from the house.

You can also prevent the damage caused by encroaching vegetation by planting yard-friendly trees and shrubs whose roots won’t damage your home’s foundation, such as:

  • Crabapple

  • Maple

  • Horse Chestnut

  • Birch

  • Dogwood

  • Hawthorne

  • Magnolia

  • Fir

  • Cedar

  • Pine

When it comes to removing tree roots or the entire tree, it’s best to call in professionals.

Contact The Professionals

Removing trees and roots is a labor-intensive job and professional landscapers have the know-how and equipment to perform the removal with minimal damage to surrounding trees and your yard.

Residential Maintenance Services offers exterior services to make sure your yard is safe and looking good! From your landscaping to your patio and outdoor lighting, our crew is dedicated to ensuring that your home is well-maintained.

Our team provides preventative maintenance contracts to address invasive and encroaching vegetation before it becomes a major problem. Interested in gaining peace of mind? Contact RMS today and learn more about our maintenance packages.