Solutions for a Willow Tree Planted Too Close to a Home

February 1, 2007
A large willow tree.


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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10 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

November 16, 2017

There are 2 willow trees behind my common wall. One is about 4-6 feet away from the common wall and I had some concrete work done from the wall to the patio of the house which it is about 22' long. The concrete was done in March of this year and just 2 months ago the concrete started to crack and lift so I reached out to the HOA and they told me that the tree could not grow roots 11+ feet to damage the concrete is that correct?


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November 16, 20173 found this helpful
Best Answer

You will need to contact your HOA again. The roots of a Weeping Willow tree can spread over 100 feet long. If the tree has reached maturity and the foliage is between 45 to 70 feet long then the root system can spread out over 100 feet.


The tree that is next to your home sounds like it is half grown and not mature. Therefore, the roots on this tree can now be around 10 to 25 feet long. Here is a link that you can read that will explain the growth of this tree and the root system. You will need to get an inspector out to examine the tree, roots, and possibility that the tree has caused this damage. If this is the case, your HOA is responsible for removing this tree immediately because the longer the tree is left to grow the larger the roots can spread. Your home could be in danger if this tree is left there much longer.

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June 3, 2018

How do I repair the roots of a weeping willow when they are too close to the house?


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June 3, 20180 found this helpful
Best Answer

When the roots are too close to the house you may have problems. They are looking for water and may find their way into your plumbing pipes and cause a blockage.


I would suggest that you trim the roots back away from the house instead of trying to repair them. Good luck.


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June 4, 20180 found this helpful
Best Answer

I don't know if willow roots are different than others, but I strongly urge you to get them away from your house as soon as possible, which depending on how far they spread, may necessitate tree removal.

When I had my home inspection before moving into my house years ago, the man told me to have the 2 front maple trees removed IMMEDIATELY or they would crack my foundation--he showed me where the damage was just starting on the one corner, as they push forward trying to grow. They also had started to buckle the sidewalk.


What he missed (but I am not sure how he could have known it since they don't put cameras down drains in home inspections) was that a Locust tree on the other side of the yard had roots that got into my sewer pipes and that was a huge expensive fix a few years later when there was a big sewage back up into my basement (BIG YUCK).

Sadly all my trees are gone (they were beautiful), but the roots can do a lot of damage.

Be sure to get several bids and recommendations on tree removals and always get the stump removed...we were very lucky, but some friends have had really bad experiences.

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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.


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?

September 13, 20151 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.

June 19, 20160 found this helpful

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

October 9, 20160 found this helpful

Round up. And lots of it

May 3, 20170 found this helpful

You can check your local municipal zoning laws, many areas forbid the planting of willows or poplars within 50 feet of any structure or sewer line. If they did you can have the village or town cite them to cut it down.

September 8, 20170 found this helpful

Drill holes in base, feed bleach Repeat often. This tree is a top weed and tough to kill

December 12, 20170 found this helpful

Pesticides and herbicides are killing bees and our natural world.

March 9, 20210 found this helpful


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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


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

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.

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!

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!

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.

July 19, 20220 found this helpful

dig up and expose some of the big root in your yard close to the fence. drill a 1 to 2 inch hole in each one half way tru the thickness of the root and fill it with straight glysofate / round up concentrate repet as necessary. they die preety fast and it doesnt take much

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October 2, 2019

We have just started a house extension and when the boundary fence was taken down the buildings regulations officer has highlighted that there is a cracked willow tree in the school garden about 5 ft from our boundary. We have had to stop our build and consult an engineer to replan a raft foundation system. This has put a substantial amount on to our build cost. We have contacted the school, but have not heard anything back from them.

Ideally the tree needs to be taken down as it potentially has an impact on the whole of our house foundations, if not now, then in the future. Who is liable for this and can we claim the extra cost of our build from them if they do or don't remove the tree? Also do we have to tell our insurers and potentially what would they do? if anything?


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October 2, 20190 found this helpful

You may need to consult a lawyer on this one. If the roots are from their tree, it would seem that it is their responsibility, but that is not always the case. The lawyer would advise about informing insurance, too.


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October 2, 20190 found this helpful

Be careful with this one! the property in question is on school grounds which is through the state. Contact a real estate lawyer,you do not want to make the wrong decision on this matter,that would cost you triple!!!


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October 6, 20190 found this helpful

This is a must ask for a lawyer and potentially getting your state represenative involved since the tree is on school property.

You can find your state rep by putting your town name into Google and the phrase "state representative". Most have local offices and staff that are very helpful. You could talk to them first and then if you need a lawyer and don't have one, they can help you find good legal aide.

Post back with an update! Sounds like such a stressful situation. Hope you can resolve it quick and easy!


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October 11, 20190 found this helpful

You should contact the city school district and ask them about this tree. I would also contact a lawyer and see what they suggest. If you can't afford one you can try going to legal aid to see if you qualify.

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January 5, 2015

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.

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, 2015

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.

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March 2, 2012

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, 2013

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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