We all love seeing the rich colors of fall foliage, or the layering of freshly fallen snow on an evergreen. But in buying your first house, you should take care to notice the trees on your new home site for a variety of reasons.
Obviously, the arrangement of trees about your new property will affect your home’s aesthetics. Trees can provide privacy from neighboring properties, and can frame a charming back yard. In suitable arrangements, they can enhance the overall appearance and curb appeal of your residence. They can offer habitat for endearing songbirds, squirrels and owls. And, in concert with shrubs, flowers, ground cover and planting beds, they can create a marvel of romantic domesticity.
Trees can also aid in tempering your property’s environs and in saving you energy. Evergreens placed in the path of prevailing winter winds can shelter you from cold and draft. Deciduous trees along southern and western faces can offer relief from the hottest rays of summer sun, then shed their foliage to let in the desired low sun of colder months. Treelines can work as snow fences, modulating snowfall across your property.
But trees on your property can also cause you concern and harm. Older trees with dying and broken crowns (or ‘snags’) can snap to cause damage below, or may require substantial expense to top off or remove entirely. Growing trees close to walks, drives and foundations can sometimes wreak havoc with spreading roots, causing cracking, heaving or water penetration. Tall trees close to your house can also litter your roof and gutters with leaves, branchlets, seeds and fruit, requiring occasional gutter cleaning and additional wear (or even damage) of roof materials. Many decorative and fruiting trees shed leaves, blossoms, seeds and fruit that may, in your view, constitute litter and an annoying nuisance to clean from walks, drives, vehicles, decks or yard furniture. And be particularly watchful for any tree or shrub having leaves, seeds or fruit that may be toxic to children or pets.
In areas where brush fires present a hazard, all trees and tall shrubs should be kept a reasonable distance from your home, as a firebreak. And, throughout many parts of the country — especially the Southwest and Florida — you must be sure not to introduce any of a great number of invasive or exotic species of tree and shrub.
Finally, you should check with your new home’s community regulations regarding trees. Many communities now restrict how many and which large trees may be cleared from a new home site, or require replacement planting for any lost trees. Others limit newly planted trees to a controlled list of species.