Horticulture Magazine

5 Best Trees To Plant Close To A House

a chestnut tree near a house

If you’re one of many Brits with a modestly sized garden nestled neatly alongside your house, then this article is for you.

We’ve rounded up a selection of trees that can be safely planted next to a house, letting you take full advantage of your garden and enjoy the full visual splendour of a tree, rather than just shrubs, bushes, and flowers.

tree growing from pavement near houses on a London street

Before we start: it’s important to clarify that the advice here is given on an informational basis. Always consult a professional surveyor if you have any doubts.

Some people will balk at the idea of putting a tree too close to your house.

“Won’t the roots come up through the living room floor?” they’ll say. “Or what about in a storm?” they’ll continue. “You’ll be asleep, then next thing you know you’ll hear an enormous crash and wake up to a tree in your bedroom.”

To these people we say, “leaf it out!” – trees and homes can exist in happy harmony, as long as you take the relevant precautions.

So, if you’ve got your mind set on a very proximal arboreal neighbour for your home, read on.

Each of the trees in this list will grow near your house without causing any unwanted destruction.

How to grow trees near structures

Before we dive in, here are a few guiding principles when planning to grow a tree near your house, or similar structure –

  • In general, tree roots cover an area about three times as wide as the tree’s profile above ground. [source]
  • Trees shed their leaves, and these can be a pain to clean up. Especially if they clog your drains: Make sure you’re prepared for the reality of this job before making any decisions.
  • Clay soils are most susceptible to subsidence issues with trees grown near to buildings. [source]
  • You may need to cut sections of your tree back to sculpt its growth in a way that presents less risk to your home. Professional surveyors can assist with this task.
  • There are many more factors to consider when planting a tree near your home than we can cover in this article. Speak to your council, your landlord (or your insurer, if you’re the property owner), and your neighbours to ensure you don’t encounter any easily avoidable problems.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at some trees that can do well near structures.

1) Birch

birch tree on a river bank
Tall and thin: It’ll fit right in

These tall and slender specimens are tolerant to a lot of conditions that may more quickly cause problems for other trees.

They can handle strong wind and have a higher tolerance to too much or too little moisture.

They also work well near to houses and other structures thanks to their relatively narrow profiles – instead of blooming forth in spherical growth, a birch’s leaves retain something closer to a triangular shape.

2) Hawthorn

large hawthorn tree with white flowers and house in the background

There are many types of hawthorn, some trees and some shrubs, and many of which sport stunning white blooms in spring.

Aesthetically, they’ll look great alongside a building.

They’re a good choice in practical terms, too, thanks to their relatively diminutive size when compared to some other trees.

Hawthorns make popular nesting trees for birds. [source]

If you’re an avid birdwatcher this could be a good sell for this type of tree – if you’re someone who doesn’t like to be woken up by a chorus of chirping at sunrise, it may be the opposite.

3) Apple

apple tree the same height as a white house

Now we get to our favourite section of this article: The tree that put forth edible fruits.

Pick one of these, and very soon you could be the local neighbourhood purveyor of pie.

All you need to do is head into your garden, scoop up the fruity windfall, bake a selection of pies, clear a prime bit of windowsill, and you’re good to go.

Getting back to the practical matters at hand, however, apple trees aren’t too difficult to grow.

They enjoy full sun and good shelter: Ideal for a position near to a house.

Growing an apple tree from seed will take a good many years, but they’re easy to grow from saplings, potentially shaving a few years off the time required to reach full height.

Just keep your eyes peeled for local neighbourhood rascals scrumping your apple harvest.

4) Pear

pear and other trees growing with lavender near a house

If the thought of warding off children desperate to scrump your annual apple supply is too much to handle, why not opt for a pear tree instead?

Everyone knows pears aren’t as desirable a fruit, so the kids will inevitably direct their thievery toward a neighbour foolish enough to grow apples.

Pear trees also thrive in sunny, sheltered spots.

A patch of garden will make an ideal home for this fantastic fruit-bearing tree.

5) Plum

pink flowers of plum tree on the edge of a road

If you’d rather something more exotic, something that lends itself better to jams and chutneys than pies, then a plum tree might be the right choice for you.

Plums do well if the young trees are trained against a wall or fence, meaning that they can work well very close to a house.

If you don’t have the luxury of even a modest-sized garden – perhaps you’ve only got an alleyway to work with, for example – then this might be a good option.

As with apples and bears, plums like well-drained soil in full sun.

Growing a tree near your house

Callery pear ttree in fall next to a Texan house
A tree doesn’t need to be miles away from your house

There we have it: A short and sweet introduction (especially the last three) to the trees that lend themselves well to growth near to your house.

If you take the time and care to choose a suitable spot, the trees in this list should flourish without causing any long- or short-term damage to your property, your fences, or your neighbours’ properties.

When deciding which tree(s) to grow near your home, we do advise precaution.

It’s a big decision, potentially lasting many years into the future, so it’s best not to rush.

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