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williamwallace 10-21-2012 10:33 AM

Birch tree
I'm told my birch tree is too close to house. Is it advisable to trim? I'm thinking of looks, and Heath of tree, it's about 30' tall?

joecaption 10-21-2012 10:43 AM

Can you hold it closer to the screen so we can all see it?

user1007 10-21-2012 12:22 PM

Birch trees can be tricky to grow in the home landscape and may be short lived. They need full sun but since they have shallow roots they need to be mulched to keep root systems cool. The shallow roots can challange house foundations. Most top out around 40 feet so if yours it at 30s it is either a smaller species or on its way to its mature height.

They do tend to grow tall and do not have crowns as wide as other trees but you should have planted yours at least 6'-8' from the house. Anything closer is pushing your luck. (For maximum health any tree should be planted at least the radius of its full grown crown from fences and structures).

Pruning may help. Be especially careful to look for signs of boring insect infestations. Get them a joke book or library card or Netflix account immediately if you notice them. Seriously, you should trim out severely damaged sections and spray with an appropriate insectiside.

Keep an adequate layer of mulch over moist, not soggy soil, at all times. Birch trees are not very draught tolerant.

Daniel Holzman 10-21-2012 01:22 PM

Trees can be too close to the house for several reasons. One is that if the tree overhangs the house, insects may move from the tree onto the roof, and eventually into the framing. This problem can be alleviated by trimming. Another problem is that a tree too close to the house can fall in a storm and damage the house. No amount of trimming is going to alleviate that problem. Another possible problem is that the roots of the tree can damage the foundation, or get into sewer or water lines. Trimming will not help that situation.

The federal list in my link lists 12 common species of birch tree. You did not indicate which type you have. Due to differing local terminology, calling a tree a "white birch" does not really help. Better to use the formal Latin name to describe your tree, if you know what kind of tree it is. See
for help in proper naming of your tree.

Knowing what kind of tree you have is immensely helpful in deciding what to do with it, for example yellow birch Betula alleghaniensis is a long lived tree that grows over 100 feet, and can get more than three feet in diameter, and you almost certainly don't want one of them near your house (treefall damage problem). Other species only grow 30 or 40 feet at most, and may not pose a treefall problem.

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