How trees can cause havoc on your property

For many of us, our gardens are our pride and joy as we take such care in maintaining them throughout the year. But as most of us green finger gardeners know, garden maintenance can be a lot of work, trimming hedges and pruning bushes, to mowing lawns. And then there are trees.

Many gardens will contain hedges, flower beds, bushes, and shrubs and maybe a small tree or two. However, some gardens might be home to a rather large tree or few. Large trees make great statement pieces in a garden, but if not managed and well looked after, can cause an array of problems.

Fallen trees

One of the most obvious issues any tree can cause you, is if they fall i.e., after a storm or from old age or illness. Large trees that are positioned close to your property could cause significant damage or injury if they fall. Roofs, walls and glass windows or doors can collapse, and trees falling on powerlines could spark fires and power outages.

Damaged or diseased trees

If your tree has been damaged from a storm or is diseased, then it is your responsibility as the property owner to try and fix the issue. If a damaged or diseased tree is left to deteriorate, it can become more unstable and more likely to fall. If this is the case, you as the property owner could be liable for any damage your fallen tree causes to public property or a neighbouring property.

Not your tree

A common issue faced by many, is when a neighbours’ tree is encroaching on your property. If your neighbours’ tree is hanging over your property line or looks like it could drop a branch or fall, then you must get in touch with your neighbour immediately. Unfortunately, you will be unlikely to claim against your neighbour’s policy if their tree falls on your property, however if they are found to be negligent (if the tree was known to be diseased or week), then it is a possibility.

Damage after removal

Whether a tree or large bush has been removed intentionally or not, depending on its age, type of root system, species and how close it was planted to your property, it could cause significant damage.

Ground heave is likely to occur when established trees or shrubs die or are removed, therefore removing their root systems that help absorb moisture from the soil. Without these root systems, excess water can accumulate in the ground, causing the soil to expand and heave upwards. Clay soils are particularly prone to ground heave, as clay can expand extensively when wet, and shrink when dry.

Subsidence is caused when the ground underneath a building begins to collapse or sinks lower, effecting or taking with it, the buildings foundations.

Trees can also contribute to subsidence, with species such as Populus, Oak and Conifers having a higher water intake than other trees, therefore absorbing large amounts of moisture from the soil.

Managing trees

To help prevent trees or large bushes from becoming a nuisance on your property, consider taking the following precautions:

  • If you are thinking of planting trees on your property, make sure to check what type of root system the trees have. If you are planting trees with a deep root system, plant them a good distance away from your property, to help prevent the roots from invading your foundations and sucking out the moisture from the soil. Trees may include Maples, Oaks and Populus.
  • If you have well established shrubs planted close to the foundations of your property, do not be tempted to dig them out right away. By disrupting the established root systems of the shrubs, it could cause the soil to become unstable or for water to build-up. Either regularly prune the shrubs to help reduce their water intake or speak to a specialist tree surgeon/gardener who can advise on the safest way on removing the shrubs.
  • Keep bushes and trees well pruned, fed and watered to help maintain their health. Cut branches that hang close to your property, fence or garden shed to help reduce the risk of damage if they fall.