Thinking About Planting Trees This Fall? Read this first.

This is the perfect time of year in Virginia to plant trees around your home. Their blooms and foliage can create four seasons of amazing curb appeal. But in our many years of home insurance claims, we've seen our share of costly property damage from trees. Planning well when it comes to choosing what kind of tree, the right location, and regular maintenance is essential to protecting your home. Take a look at the experience our members, the Duvalls, had with a mature tree next to their Charlottesville home. 


Wow! What a claim. We were happy to help the Duvall's get back on their feet and get their home repaired. While not all home damage from trees can be avoided, there are two wise questions homeowners should ask themselves that sure can help!

 

1. What tree should I plant?

 

Let’s tackle why you might avoid certain types of trees. Take the ever popular Bradford Pear found all over Virginia with their beautiful white spring blooms. But those attractive flowers are quite potent and don't smell very good. More importantly, this top heavy, v-shaped tree is very prone to splitting during bad weather. 

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Speaking of stinky trees, you definitely want to avoid the Ginkgo tree. It's a beautiful tree, but don't let its stunning yellow fall foliage trick you unless you can buy a male sexed tree. The female variety drops a messy, vomit-like smelling fruit in the fall that sticks to shoes and gets tracked inside. No thank you!

There's also a list of trees that have aggressive roots and should not be planted near your home or septic system. The Weeping Willow is an eye-catching southern tradition but requires so much water it will seek it wherever possible, including sewer pipes, septic tanks and foundation walls. Plant one these beauties if you live close to a water shed or pond and at least 100 feet from your home and septic tank.

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2. Where should I plant my tree?

 

You what they say about picking a new home: it's all about location, location, location. The same is true about planting trees. When picking a spot for a new tree, be sure to locate it based on what it will become in 10 or 20 years. Size can be deceiving! Check the tag of that cute little sapling or better yet, google it! You'll not only find out its growth potential, but you can also learn a lot about those not-so-cute qualities, like the invasive root systems, flammable foliage, and messy saps,seeds and fruit! 

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Be sure to pick a healthy tree and plant it with ample room to grow. As trees age and get taller they become more susceptible to being uprooted by wind. Trees with non-invasive root systems might be less likely to interfere with sidewalks, sewers or your home, but can be more prone to falling from severe weather.

That means the maximum growth potential in feet should be the planting distance from your home and other structures, including your neighbor’s property

 

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Tree split in Irvington, VA from an EF1 tornado, spring 2017

Maintenance is key

 

Whether you're planting a new tree or moved into a yard full of them, simple regular maintenance is the best way to protect your home and property from damage. If have no idea what you have, here’s a handy identification tool. For most trees, it's best to prune in late winter, before new growth begins. So make it part of your annual spring routine.

The great thing is once you've done a good job of selecting, planting and taking care of your trees, you know your home is safe and you can enjoy them. They're sure to bring your family years of beauty, shade, and lots of fall leaves to rake!

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