The Q&A Archives: Flowering Trees

Question: I would like to plant a few flowering trees close to my house. What trees do not have large spreading roots? I am worried about damaging my foundation or roots destroying my plumbing.

Answer: In general, any tree could potentially damage pipes or a foundation, especially if there is any weakness there to be found and grown into or through. It is also important to understand that a tree's root system is usually about as big as the part of the tree you see above ground, with the roots spreading at least as wide if not wider than the canopy. When planting a tree near a building it is also a good idea to plan ahead for the tree's mature width so that it will not rub against the eaves or cause a similar problem.

When selecting a tree it is important to consider the growing conditions first, to see if there is sun or shade, extra moisture or less than average, heavy soil or rich soil, any wind or other unusual condition and so on. Based on that you would be able to determine a list of possible trees to consider planting. Since it is close to your house, you would then probably want to look for specific varieties that are columnar or at least narrow in mature size and shape.

Your county extension may be able to help you analyze the site conditions and suggest some varieties of trees based on that. Alternatively, a good local nursery with Pennsylvania Accredited Nurserymen or experienced arborists on staff should be able to help with your choice.

It is worth researching a bit because trees live for a long time and can be a wonderful addition to the landscape if chosen well.

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