The Best and Worst Trees to Plant Near a House (By Zone)

The Best and Worst Trees to Plant Near a House (By Zone)

Young trees have a way of making our minds wander. One minute you’re looking at a slender stalk with bare twigs, and the next you’re imagining the tall beauty it will soon be.

And that’s a good thing! You want to envision just how big your soon-to-be tree will get and what that means for your home before you plant.

When you choose the right tree, you save yourself the future headache of roots damaging your home’s foundation or fallen leaves constantly at your front door. Make the stress-free choice by learning about the best and worst trees to plant near a house below.

How close can you plant trees to a house, anyway?

This question all comes down to tree size. After all, the wide-root oak tree that’s 70 feet tall needs much more room than the modest Japanese maple.

A good rule of thumb is to start at about 8 to 10 feet away from your home for small trees and scale up to account for the tree’s mature height and spread.

Worst Trees to Plant Near a House

The trees on this short list are deemed the worst because of their widespread, invasive roots. These are just the top offenders, though!

Once you find a tree you like, do a little research to see how fast growing and destructive their roots could be.

  • White ash (Zones 2-9): A fast-growing shade tree with invasive, lateral roots that’s also susceptible to emerald ash borer!
  • Poplar (Zones 3-8): A tall tree with aggressive roots known for causing sewer and foundational damage
  • American elm (Zones 3-9): A full tree that has shallow roots that can disrupt your lawn, sidewalk or driveway
  • Silver maple (Zones 3-9): A tree with gorgeous, shimmery leaves that also has roots that often end up growing above the ground
  • Weeping willow (zones 6-8): A large shade tree that commonly invades sewer lines
  • Oak (Zones 8-10): A fast-growing, beloved tree notorious for causing foundational damage

Best Trees to Plant Near a House

These trees make the list because of their non-invasive roots or low-maintenance cleanup. Plus, it helps that they’re all beautiful trees!

  • Crabapple (Zones 3-8): A short, flowering tree that matures at about 20 feet tall. Be sure to pick a disease-resistant tree to avoid headaches later!
  • American hornbeam (zones 3-9): A slow-growing member of the birch family that’s small in size
  • Cornelian-cherry dogwood (Zones 4-7): An excellent small tree that puts on the best possible show of flowers when planted in front of a dark background
  • Japanese maple (zones 5-8): A popular scarlet-colored tree that’s ideal for planting at a curbside location or near a patio
  • Flowering dogwood (Zones 5-8): A delicate, flowering tree great for planting near walls
  • American holly (zones 5-9): A popular evergreen tree that’s low-maintenance

Found the perfect tree? Here’s how to plant it step-by-step!


  • The Tree Doctor September 18, 2018 >Hi Harry, There are several factors can affect the potential for root systems to damage foundation walls. Soil type, moisture content, tree species, proximity to the foundation, root structural pattern and foundation construction type can all be important. Each situation is different and should be assessed in person. I would recommend having a certified arborist come out to give their opinion. Best of luck to you, Harry.
  • Harry Teuchert September 15, 2018 >Will a Maple tree that's 30-40 high planted two feet form a house be a problem for the basement/ Could it cause damage?
  • Placerville Tree Service September 13, 2018 >Absolutely! It's vital to know which trees to plant and others to steer clear from.
  • The Tree Doctor August 28, 2018 >Hi Terry, The comments likely stem from the mature diameter width of flowering dogwood. The tree can reach 30 feet in height with an equal or even wider spread. To avoid conflicts with buildings or other objects, it is typically recommended to not plant closer than the expected distance from the trunk to dripline; 15 feet in this case. You can plant closer but will have to prune to direct growth so branches do not grow into the house. This can result in distorting the natural shape of the tree, but that is a personal preference that may not be as important as tree placement. Hopefully, this helps!
  • Terry de Grace Morris August 22, 2018 >I just read on multiple sites that Cornus florida, flowering dogwood is not a good tree to plant near the house. 15 feet is the suggested distance on these sites.
  • The Tree Doctor April 26, 2018 >Hi Denise, There shouldn’t be an issue planting a Redbud under those circumstances. I would recommend not planting your tree right next to the patio but give it 3-4 feet or so to allow for growth. The roots tend to not go deep because oxygen concentration in the soil decreases with depth, your septic line should be fine. Your patio should be too, as long as you do not plant your tree right next to it. If you are still apprehensive about planting, one of our arborists could come out and give you their opinion during a consultation. Based on the zip code you provided, here is the web page that will have your local office’s contact information: Hopefully, this helps! Here if you have any more questions, Denise.
  • Denise George April 25, 2018 >I am considering planting a redbud tree beside my patio. However, I only have room to plant it over the septic pipe that comes from the house. The pipe is quite deep and we added dirt to build up the area around the house. Is the redbud a good tree for this area. I also have a serviceberry tree planted near the patio. Any concern for the roots damaging the patio? Thank you for your time. Denise
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