23/11/2015 Last Modified: 04/02/2016
In spite of what you may read in newspapers or be told by insurance companies, there are no fixed minimum recommended distances that you should plant trees of certain species from buildings.
When choosing a tree or trees to plant, you should give careful consideration to design, in particular how they will fit with their surroundings when they have reached their mature size. Young trees are frequently planted in spaces which are too small to allow them to grow to maturity, and a consequence of this is that they may be disliked as they develop, frequently resulting in heavy pruning or removal. Consequently, it is important to consider the ultimate size of the tree when choosing what and where to plant.
If you live in an area where there is heavy clay soil it is possible that trees in close proximity to buildings may cause structural damage to them by causing soil shrinkage which can lead to downward movement called subsidence. This is rare and cannot easily be predicted and there are many factors which affect it including the nature of the soil, tree characteristics, foundation design and climate. In areas of heavy clay soil where building foundations are known to be shallow this issue should be considered when deciding where to plant trees and how to manage existing trees – further advice should be sought as necessary.