It’s the most popular time of year for decorating and renovating your home and it is also a good time for planting trees and shrubs ready for those lazy days in the garden enjoying a bit of alfresco dining.
Planting trees and shrubs creates a more attractive garden, and is a great way to fill a gap, provide privacy; and screen sights and sounds from next door. But before you get carried away, remember that roots often extend to distances in excess of the height of the tree and they can take moisture from the soil.
So before you start planting, or drastically cutting back the greenery in your garden, here are some of our practical tips on planting trees and shrubs near your home to help reduce the risk of potential damage:
- If the soil is clay, new planting may cause it to shrink, while removing existing trees and shrubs may make it swell. Therefore, plant new trees away from your home. Find out how tall the mature tree will be and make sure it is positioned at least three quarters of this distance from the house.
- High water demand trees should be planted no closer to the home than one-and-a-quarter times the mature height. High water demand trees include elm, eucalyptus, oak, poplar, willow and some common cypress species.
- Avoid planting climbers such as ivy and virginia creeper against house walls, as they hold on using suckers, twining tendrils or aerial roots which could damage mortar and may cause damp. Plant these at least three metres away from your home.
- Before cutting down or pruning a mature tree, check with your local authority to make sure that it is not protected by planning conditions, conservation area restrictions or a Tree Preservation Order.
- Allow enough room for trunks and large roots to grow safely. Be particularly careful if planting near drains or lightweight structures.
- Although you do not need to, when planting new trees in your garden that will also be near you neighbour’s house, be considerate and ask your neighbour if this is ok. As you could be liable for the cost of repair if the trees you plant cause damage to their home.
- Regular pruning of fast growing, thirsty trees such as Cypress Leyland, will help to reduce the amount of water taken from the soil.
- The level of soil around your home should be kept below the damp proof course (generally 150mm or two brick courses). Paths should also generally be kept around 150mm or two brick courses below the damp proof course, except where these have been designed to provide level access into the home. If you are not sure where the damp proof course is, ask the builder to show you. Where air bricks, permanent ventilators or perpend vents are provided, they should not be blocked or covered by soil or paving.
- And last of all, although the UK is fortunate to have plenty of rain, do ensure trees and shrubs are watered sufficiently to give them a good start in life especially those that may be sheltered by other structures.
Further advice for homeowners on property maintenance and other issues can be found in our useful publication for the buyers of new-build homes: A Guide to your new home – a practical guide to looking after your new home.