Fall is the perfect time of year in Virginia to plant trees around your home. They can create 4 seasons of amazing curb appeal with their foliage and blooms. But in our many years of home insurance claims, we've seen our share of costly property damage from trees. Planning well when it comes to choosing what kind of tree, where to plant it, and the right maintenance, is essential to protecting your home. Take a look at the experience the Duvalls had with a mature tree at their Charlottesville home.
We were happy to help the Duvall's get back on their feet and get their home repaired. While not all home damage from trees can be avoided, there are a few things homeowners should consider that sure can help.
Let’s tackle why you might avoid certain types of trees. You notice the popular Bradford Pear all over Virginia for their beautiful white blooms each spring. But those attractive flowers are quite potent and don't smell very good. More importantly, this top heavy, v-shaped tree is very prone to splitting during bad weather.
Speaking of stinky trees, you definitely want to avoid the Ginkgo tree. Don't let its stunning yellow fall foliage trick you unless you can find a male tree.The female variety drops a messy, vomit-like smelling fruit in fall that sticks to shoes and gets tracked inside. No thank you!
There's also a list of trees that have aggressive roots and should not be planted near your home or septic system, like the white birch and sweetgum. The weeping willow is an eye-catching southern tradition but requires so much water it will seek it wherever possible, including sewer pipes, septic tanks and foundation walls. Plant one these beauties if you live close to a watershed or pond and at least 100 feet from your home and septic.
Good choices for yard trees include the crabapple and flowering dogwood, both with pretty spring blooms. The crape myrtle provides shade and gorgeous late summer flowers, while the Japanese maple has eye-catching red foliage in the fall.
Location, location, location
When picking a planting spot for a new tree, be sure to locate it based on what it will become in 10 or 20 years. Size can be deceiving! Check the tag of that cute little sapling or better yet, google it. You'll not only find out its growth potential, but you can also learn a lot about those not-so-cute qualities, like the invasive root systems, flammable foliage, and messy saps,seeds and fruit!
Be sure to pick a healthy tree and plant it with ample room to grow. As trees age and get taller they become more susceptible to being uprooted by wind. Trees with non-invasive root systems might be less likely to interfere with sidewalks, sewers or your home, but can be more prone to falling from severe weather, including your neighbor's home and property.
That means the maximum growth potential, in feet, should be the planting distance from your home and other structures.
Maintenance is Key
Whether your planting a new tree or moved into a yard full of them, simple regular maintenance is the best way to protect your home and property. If have no idea what you have, here’s a handy identification tool to know what you’re dealing with. For most trees, it's best to prune in late winter, before new growth begins. So make it part of your annual early spring routine.
Once you've done a good job of selecting, planting and taking care of your trees, enjoy them. They're sure to bring your family years of beauty, shade, leaves to play in and still protect your home.