Buying a New Home? Assess the Trees

Landscape MaintenanceTree Care

In the market for a new home? Assess the condition of a property’s trees before you buy so that you have a realistic expectation of the maintenance cost they will require. Look for disease and damage, unstable trees, and trees in need of cleanup.

Are you in the market for a new home? In addition to a vision for the perfect house, you may have a dream property in mind, like one filled with shady trees. Remember that while trees are desirable, maintaining them is a hidden cost of owning this kind of property. Assess a property’s trees before you buy so that you have a realistic expectation of the care they will require.

Diseased or Damaged Trees

Look out for potential disease or damage.

  • Mistletoe can be found on laurel oaks, elms, sycamores, wild cherry trees, and hackberries. Though it is romanticized and associated with the holiday season, this parasitic plant takes nutrients and water from host trees. Any mistletoe will need to be removed, or the tree may weaken significantly or even die.
  • Look closely at the trees on the property and pay attention to hollows, cavities, and crotches. Hollows and cavities are signs of previous injury and internal decay. Tree crotches may accommodate water and then soften and decay, leading to splitting.
  • Look for signs of woodpecker activity—lines of holes around a tree trunk. Woodpeckers go after bugs inside trees. Bugs live inside trees with softness and decay. Those trees may eventually have to be removed.

Unstable Trees

Many factors can cause instability in trees. If a tree falls due to an unstable structure, it will require removal at the very least and, if the tree is near the house or driveway, potential property or home repair.

  • Trees with dense canopies will be vulnerable in a strong storm because their solid mass acts as a wall. They will need to be thinned to allow strong winds to pass through them and not push them over.
  • Mature trees with codominant branches (their trunks part into two branches growing in a Y shape) are susceptible to splitting in a storm since their structure is inherently weaker than a tree with a single trunk. These trees cannot be corrected by pruning and should be assessed by a professional. They may need to either have a branch removed or reinforcement installed.
  • Leaning trees with exposed roots are more likely to blow over in a storm and should be checked out by a professional. If the tree is close to the house, it will most likely need to be removed.
  • Are any large trees growing close to the home? Look for mature trees with branches that extend over the roof and pose a risk of breaking off. Large branches that fall can cause severe roof damage and injury to people in the spaces below.

Trees in Need of Cleanup

Trees that need to be cleaned up are not deal-breakers but home shoppers should understand the amount of work they will require to neaten up. Look for trees with shooters around the base and water sprouts on the branches. These parts will need to be removed in order to have tidy trees and landscaping.

Summing it Up

Consider the above factors as you look for the perfect new property and home. Plan on spending an average of $500-1000 per year for maintenance on a one-acre lot with a lot of trees. Plan on spending $1200-$1500 each for any large trees (50-60 feet tall) that must be removed. 

With careful evaluation, you will know what to expect and how to budget. You may purchase a treed property, be prepared for its maintenance costs, and enjoy it to the max.

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