A wealth of big, tall trees that provide lots of shade might seem idyllic when you’re shopping for a home. However, big trees can cause a host of problems. Your dream doesn’t have to die, though. All you need is a little front-end scrutiny. Here, Realtor.com offers 7 factors to consider during your home search.
1. Big trees can be dangerous
Sprawling trees are a double-edged sword. On one hand, trees offer a great return on investment. A mature tree can add $1,000 to $10,000 to the value of your home, according to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers. Trees also can reduce your heating and cooling bills, clean the air, improve your attitude and help with curb appeal. But large trees can be a huge liability as well, with rot issues that can fester over time if they go unidentified and can lead to property damage and potential bodily harm.
2. You’ll need an extra inspection
That sky-high oak calls for another step in the home-buying process: hiring a professional arborist to inspect it. These experts can spot illness, determine whether trimming is needed and eye potential pitfalls before you plunk down the purchase price. Costs for arborist services vary, but some initial consultations can range from free to $75.
3. Some trees simply can’t stay
Just because a tree would make the perfect home for your daughter’s treehouse, that doesn’t mean it’s actually a good tree. When looking for houses, keep an eye out for indications that large trees may need removal by looking for insect holes along the tree, which might mean a bug infestation. And shy away from trees with vertical fractures, ones that are uprooted or ones with a prominent lean, which might indicate serious breakage in the tree’s future. Any combination of these problems would call for the tree to be professionally assessed.
4. You’ll need to prep for a mess
Even the healthiest, happiest trees can still make a mess. Are you prepared to dedicate a half-dozen fall afternoons to raking? Pine trees scatter their needles everywhere, while branches above driveways become perches for birds to poop on cars. Even if you’re fine with the mess, will you be game for any post-storm cleanup? Those over-driveway branches hold the house and cars hostage, with the chance of dead or even healthy branches falling. Repairing a damaged car or roof can prove a painful expense; and preventive maintenance isn’t cheap, either. To keep your walkways safe, you could spend around $200 for trimming and up to $1,000 for very large trees.
5. There could be a root problem
Big trees are old trees, and old trees often have wandering roots. As they go hunting for water and nutrients, roots expand and grow, causing problems throughout the surrounding property. Roots can extend three times farther than the tree’s foliage and cause a problem if roots pop through the ground or grow into structures, pavement, pipes or utility service lines. If these roots inch toward your foundation, it can sometimes require a costly fix.
6. Big trees can draw mosquitoes and other pests
Wait, what do mosquitoes have to do with trees? It all comes down to the leaves that fall in your gutters. If you’re not fastidious about cleaning out the gutters, piled-up tree leaves can create pockets of standing water that invite mosquitoes. And big trees also can attract other unwanted guests. If branches touch the siding or roof of your home, they can serve as a bridge for pests such as ants and termites.
7. Your trees might throw too much shade
Tree placement can dramatically affect the success of your garden and lawn. If most of your lawn is shaded, you’ll need a dose of creativity when it comes to getting vegetable beds to thrive and flower beds to sprout. Shade gardens are better suited to woodland plants, so you may find growing grass is more difficult.