Small trees, no more than 25 to 30 feet tall, may be planted as close as 6 feet from a house. Any closer and the root system may injure your home's foundation. Choose trees that are resistant to storm damage, disease and insect infestation. Watch the sun's shadow path during the day and consider tree placement for optimum east to west shade opportunity. Windows and air conditioners that are shaded correctly will provide energy savings.
Single-story homeowners will find flowering trees commensurate with the shorter scale of their home. Dogwoods and magnolias provide shade when placed near east or west windows. The flowers are pretty and fragrant, the leaves larger and well-spaced, forming a well-rounded canopy that allows a peek of the sun and maintains enough view to see out the window. Flowering trees attract bees so consider screening your windows.
Taller Deciduous Trees
Taller trees such as river birch, red and silver maples work well to frame two or three story homes. Root systems can be wide, so plan accordingly when choosing how close to plant these larger shade trees to your home. How close is too close depends on sidewalk and driveway location as well as foundation, pipe and septic issues. Proper maintenance is key to keeping these trees under control as they tend to sprawl when left to their own accord.
Trees genetically engineered to remain small and ornamental like weeping cherry trees or dwarf apple may be planted within 3 to 6 feet of a home. Many of these trees have root systems that remain shallow or that grow straight down into the ground instead of sprawling horizontally endangering concrete foundations or sidewalks.