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Solutions for a Willow Tree Planted Too Close to a Home

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A large willow tree.
These trees can create problems when planted too close to a structure or plumbing. This guide is about solutions for a willow tree planted too close to a home.


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February 1, 20071 found this helpful


I have a willow tree about 12-15 feet from the house and the base of the trunk is about 12 inches. I understand the roots can enter water systems, but can they also impact house foundations? To prevent any potential damage I am uncertain whether it is best to remove the tree now or to just manage its growth.

The concern is if the roots have already entered the foundations or water systems then killing the tree will cause the roots to decay and leave gaps and perhaps cause further damage. Any advice on how best to manage the tree in the future would be gratefully accepted.

Hardiness Zone: 8a

Alan from Gloucetser, UK



Sorry to hear about the placement of your willow tree. Twelve to fifteen feet from the house sounds awfully close. This tree species grows fast and its roots are experts at seeking out water. The nutrient-rich water from leaky sewer pipes or cracked water lines acts like a magnet to the roots of these water-loving trees. This is why they don't belong in residential landscapes-not to mention that willows drop a lot of kindling and are quite messy as they age. It's hard to say whether or not your tree's roots will infiltrate your foundation, if they haven't already. One determining factor is where in relation to the location of your tree, that your water and sewer pipes enter and exit your home. As long as the roots have enough room to spread out, a solid structure like your foundation will divert the direction of their growth, providing that is, that any nearby pipes are in good repair and moisture doesn't tend to pool in the area. Build up the soil around your foundation and use rain gutters to divert the flow of water away from your home. If it doesn't impede the flow of water away from your foundation, you may also want to have a landscaper install a root barrier. Of course, prevention is the best medicine. If you end up having the tree removed, do so a few weeks after it leafs out in the spring when most of the tree's energy has been expended. Gaps and cracks left by decaying roots can always be filled and repaired.



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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
September 12, 2015

Last year my neighbour planted what was a 10 foot willow tree about 8 feet from their home and about 10 feet from our concrete brick garage. We pointed out the problems this would cause, but my neighbour literally screamed at my wife shouting, "It's not big"! I know that may seem an extreem response, but you haven't met my neighbour.
It's already around 15 foot and isn't going to get any smaller and is already starting to block some of our garden sunshine we've been used to for the last 30 years since moving in. Can anyone advise on how I should proceed please.


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September 13, 20151 found this helpful

Gotta love inconsiderate neighbours? (Not.) Does your city have a help line? A resource you can call to inquire about your options?

Reply Was this helpful? 1
September 13, 20150 found this helpful

Look to see if your state, county, city, etc has a 'property standards' division or something similar. If I recall correctly, I have read that those Willow trees, though beautiful and graceful, can be quite destructive to foundations and water lines. They have to be planted far away from houses and municipal or other water lines for this reason. If there is no property standards division, call around until you find out who to contact. Don't speak to the neighbor any further on the subject since it appears they are stubborn anyway. The proper division in your area will give them a certain amount of time to either move or remove the tree before fining them, or will let you know if there is nothing which can be done about it. But I do think Willows are the ones which need lots of space.

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September 14, 20150 found this helpful

I am not sure if you can complain about shade from a neighbour's tree. You may just have to move your garden to a different location in the yard, or learn to garden with less sun.

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November 7, 20150 found this helpful

The root system of a willow tree extend far beyond the diameter of the tree. If they haven't already, I'm sure it's just a matter of time til the roots invade your property, particularly if your property is wetter than your neighbors.

If you find you have no other recourse, enough 2,4-D amine (or more potent herbicide), soaked into the ground where your property adjoins your neighbor's (near the site of the tree), should, within a season, kill the tree. To my knowledge, there is nothing illegal about doing so. What if you had a dense growth of poison ivy in that area?

I love willow trees. It is our responsibility as Humans to plant them with respect to our neighbors.

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June 19, 20160 found this helpful

If you kill a weeping willow tree or cut down the tree, will this kill the roots?

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October 9, 20160 found this helpful

Round up. And lots of it

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Read More Answers

By 0 found this helpful
September 11, 2010

My neighbor (and best friend!) lives next door and had a willow tree planted within a foot or two from our fence line. The tree is 20-30 ft tall after 6 or so years. It has lifted our mutual fence, pushed up our patio, and now the roots are coming up through our lawn.

This is a very delicate situation as she is very attached to the tree. My question is this: what is the best way to handle the situation regarding replacing our property and removing the tree? Do we submit a claim to our insurance company? Hers? Do we sue? I want to remain friends and make this as cost effective for her as possible.

My entire patio will need replaced, possibly my sprinkler system and now I'm afraid it could be getting into our foundation. I mentioned the problem to her several months ago, but told her nothing needed to be done "today", so we can take some time to figure out what to do. It has caused much more damage in just the last few months so I mentioned it again and she didn't say much. Help! What would you do?
Thanks in advance.

Hardiness Zone: 10a

By Jodie from Sacramento, CA

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
September 11, 20100 found this helpful

I doubt that a six-year-old willow is a protected tree, but contact Sacramento's Urban Forestry Service. Here is a link to their FAQ:  nforest/faq.html

There is a section on "Tree versus property conflicts." You should also contact your homeowner's insurance and your neighbor should do the same.

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September 14, 20100 found this helpful

Your assumption that she would not give up the tree should be challenged. Can one take cuttings from this tree and root them? If so, give her ten rootings and she can grow this fast-growing tree elsewhere while you address the current problem. The tree could possibly then be cut down and removed.

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September 14, 20100 found this helpful

If this person is willing to allow her tree to tear up your fence, ruin your patio and possibly your foundation not to mention the sewer pipes if it gets into them, then she is not your friend and you don't need any more like her. She shouldn't treat a stranger this way much less someone she claims to like. Do what you have to do.

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September 14, 20100 found this helpful

Find out if the roots are coming up as a possibility of the tree coming down! Call an Arborist or local tree service and they will come out and check the structure of the tree. If they can prove it may be dangerous, perhaps your friend will see it as an emergency removal and not just an "inconvenience" to you. I like the idea of making cuttings too, so that she can plant a new one elsewhere!

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September 14, 20100 found this helpful

It's only a matter of time until the willow roots get into your water and/or sewer system--and hers, too. Willow does a great job of wrecking a great many things, as you are finding out. Unless your neighbor has vast acreage away from your house (about two miles would be good), DON'T encourage her to plant more willows!

When a willow tree broke into my sewer lines and began backing things up into the basement, I got RotoRooter. They guaranteed their (expensive) work for only six weeks (vs. six months to a year or more for any other kind of tree). We had the willow tree cut down promptly! How about a nice dogwood or weeping cherry? Take a photo or several of the tree so she can grace her walls with its beauty. Good luck!

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September 26, 20100 found this helpful

I must encourage you to encourage her to have the tree cut down and the stump/roots poisoned, by removing the whole tree the vacuum which is left will take a long time to settle so if the roots/stump die slowly and rot away this will encourage settlement and 'return to previous status' over a long period of time which is preferable. Also, as previously stated, the roots will find water, whatever form it is so complete removal is not an option. We say, whats above ground is the same as below ground! this gives a frightening picture eh? I also agree with the previous posting that this lady is not a 'good' friend if she ignores requests. this is serious and will cost an extortionate amount of money to repair/put right and you should not be expected to pay either via insurance or your own pocket. I wish you lots of luck.

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January 5, 20150 found this helpful

Our backdoor neighbor has a huge willow tree on our boundary. The tree has caused a lot of problems from drain blockage to rotten deck not to mention safety on our side of the fence. We have discussed this since 2009 but nothing has been done. She explained why she planted the tree close to the fence and boundary was to keep her lawn and property dry from storm water. Our house has flooded about 3 or 4 times since we've bought the place in December, 1999. What can we do?

By Patisepa T.

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January 6, 20150 found this helpful

First, Willow Trees drink a lot of water, so if there is flooding you may have cracked pipes (willow roots are known to do that) or another issues. Simply removing the tree (and it's roots) is not going to "fix" the flooding problems...

Regarding, the neighbor, I think your best course of action is to have an expert come and access the issue. Have them document their professional opinion that the Willow Tree roots are the cause of the damage on your property and send a copy to your neighbor. Keep a copy for your records, just in case you do have serious damage so you can show the neighbor knew the tree was an issue. Now it is no longer just YOU saying the tree is causing damage.

If they still refuse to remove the tree, since you already have property damage, and the potential for much more, check with your Home Owners Insurance company and see if they have any suggestions (I'm sure they'd love to get involved before you need to file a claim... and it's only a matter of time). They may be able to provide you with documentation showing that if there is damage, she is liable that you can give her as well. In some states, trees that cause root and limb damage are considered nuisance and you could file a legal claim to have it removed if you absolutely have to, but hopefully gently informing her of HER liability if the tree causes more damage, will help her see the light.

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January 6, 20150 found this helpful

PS - you have every legal right to remove the roots that are on your side of the property line, so that is another option.... but it's expensive and you run the risk killing the tree or worse weakening it so it falls your way during the next wind-storm.

Maybe you could discuss that option with your neighbor as something you would have to do if the tree isn't removed and see what they say. And of course offering to help pay for the cost of the tree removal may sweeten the pot.

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June 27, 20160 found this helpful

Dig down on your side of the property line till you expose some major roots, then cut into those roots and flood them with "Round-UP" herbicide. Buy a gallon of the concentrate, mix with the appropriate amount of water, and puur it all into the hole and over the roots !!! You should see results in a few days. Roundup kills virtually all plants, and nothing will grow in that spot for two to three years !!!

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March 11, 20150 found this helpful

My neighbour is concerned about a pussy willow tree planted close to the boundary approximately 50 feet from our houses. The tree has flowered for the first time this year, so I would like to keep the tree if it is safe to do so. The main sewer and water pipes are in the road and underneath the pavement on the far side of the house, but my neighbour is concerned about the foundation of the houses.
Is this distance a safe distance and would keeping the tree pruned reduce the distance the roots spread?

By Margaret M

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March 11, 20150 found this helpful

Look at how far the branches of the tree come out. That's about the same radius as the roots. Just picture the tree upside down.

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March 13, 20150 found this helpful

The following website explains tree root and house foundation problems. The author discusses the trees in his local area. However, his description about how tree roots affect home foundations can be used in many other areas. Note that a tree's roots do not need to expand underneath a home foundation to affect the home. The amount of water a tree draws over time may affect a nearby home's foundation. If you and your neighbor are concerned, a tree consultant or arborist may be the best plan to resolve all concerns.

http://www.foun  ffect-your-home/

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March 2, 20120 found this helpful

I have a weeping willow tree in my garden which is about 35-40 feet away from an extension I built 20 years ago. Recently I have noticed a few cracks appearing in the extension. I decided to cut the tree by about 50%. Do you think the cracks are caused by the willow tree? Will cutting it to reduce its size will help?

By Ghani A

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March 5, 20120 found this helpful

Willow trees are known to have invasive roots. Cutting the tree will do nothing about its root span. You can cut the tree down, but you must kill the stump and root system too. If not, it will continue to grow and cause problems. I've heard from the time I was young, to not plant a willow near any structure or you'll have problems.

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March 5, 20120 found this helpful

The roots of a willow tree generally go out 4 times further than the growth of the top of the tree. If water is scarce, they will go further trying to reach water, They are known for tearing into wells, septic tanks, water lines, sewer lines...

Cutting the top of the tree back won't help as the roots are already out there. They won't shrink back.

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March 1, 20130 found this helpful

I have willow trees in my back yard. My home is 5 years old and the closest tree from my house is about 25 feet. Question. Can I simply cut a large root nearing the home, which will make the cut about 20 feet from the tree. Will I kill the tree by doing that?

By Henry

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December 30, 20160 found this helpful

We have a neighbor next door that has planted 4 to 5 Globe Willow trees in her backyard which is not a large back yard, and also at least 3 more in her front yard, most of them on the east side which is next to our home. Several years ago, the city installed a very large underground sewer pipe which went between our side yards, under the street and between the yards across the street to their alley. She waters these trees constantly but since watering is allowed by our city ordinance, if you use a hand held hose, she is not out of compliance with the city. She uses one of the curly hoses that she curls around the trunk of the trees and leaves the water running even when she is gone from home. We have complained to the City on several occasions with no results. They are unconcerned with the invasion of the roots into the sewer line. The constant watering has killed our grass and as a result we have had to replace the grass twice as well as having a French Drain installed. All at our expense. We absolutely do not know what to do or who to turn to. The man that installed the French drain tried to talk to her and she refused to discuss anything with him. Our chemical company that treats our lawn was here when the water was gushing out from under her fence and running down the street and flooding our yard. Between the constant flooding of our yard and the fear of the roots damaging our foundation, which we just spent $ 4000.00 to repair, we don't know who to turn to for help. Any suggestions?

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