How far from the house should you plant conifers?

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How far from the house should you plant conifers?
Conifers too close to the house block light and may damage foundations. (Getty Images)

How close to your house trees should be planted depends on their purpose---whether for shade, boundary, accent, windbreak, or screen. For example, for optimum shade or to "frame" your house, trees should be only 15 to 20 feet away.

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Personal preference and purpose

How close to your house trees should be planted depends on their purpose — whether for shade, boundary, accent, windbreak, or screen. For example, for optimum shade or to "frame" your house, trees should be only 4.6 to 6.1 m (15 to 20 feet) away.

Utilities and structural risks

Planted too close, trees may undermine foundations, enter drains or septic tanks, or cause roof damage during storms. To avoid this, large conifers should be at least 10.7 m (35 feet) away; to serve as a windbreak, over 15.2 m (50 feet) away. Boundary plantings pose least structural risk, but may not be possible where utilities follow property lines. Neighbours' objections should also be considered.

Bottom line

Remember to consider the size of the mature tree, not the size at planting. Conifer roots are shallow but spread four to seven times as wide as the mature crown. Check plant label for spread size, multiply by at least four and do not plant within this "root distance" of drains, foundations, or driveways. Avoid overhead lines and enquire about underground utilities.

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