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How Far From House Should Oak Tree Be Planted?

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When looking for ways to add windbreakers and enjoying fresh, natural air in your home, trees are usually the go-to options. One of the best trees to plant for these purposes is an oak tree. But how far from your main house should you plant one? Here's a reliable answer we found from researching. 

An oak tree should be planted 20 feet away from the house. At this distance, your house will be free of excessive leaf drops as a result of extended branches in your building, and you will enjoy the breeze from an ideal distance. The roots of the oak tree would also be distant from the foundation of the main building.

Distance and some other factors need to be considered in building your tree away from your home. Stick around and let us walk you through other necessary points you should note before planting an oak tree.

Charter Oak Tree, Danson Park, Bexleyheath, London, England, How Far From House Should Oak Tree Be Planted?

Oak Trees [Background]

Oak trees are known for their long lifespan, with an average life expectancy of 200 to 400 years. Some have been said to have lived for more than 800 years. This longevity in lifespan is very evident in their slow growth rate. An oak tree is estimated not to grow beyond 2 feet in diameter in 80 years.

Sunset Sunrise Sun Shining Through Oak Tree Branches In Sunny Summer Forest

They are also known for high water consumption which makes them well suited for urban areas. An oak tree of 20 years can consume up to 50 gallons of water daily. With this, they can be helpful in draining off rainwater and runoffs.

Some of their benefits include:

  • Oak timber is prized for its elasticity, strength, and durability which makes it ideal for making furniture, ships, Yamaha drums, and the like.
  • Its bark is believed to contain medicinal elements which can be used in treating wounds.
  • Oak acorns are known to be food for wildlife. Native Americans are also known to feed on flours made from ground acorns.
  • Its bark contains tannin used in leather preparation. It is also used as a bowel astringent in medicine to cure diarrhea.
  • It contains components that can treat skin inflammations and infections.

How Far From The House Should Oak Tree be Planted? 

Getting the distance right is very important in protecting your building from tree damage, you need to know how close is too close. Generally, the ideal distance is a function of the tree size, for an oak tree which is a large tree, it should be above 20 feet away from the building.

This distance also takes in the possibility of uprooting. There may be a need to uproot and replant a tree in the future for any possible reason; if your oak tree is not well distanced and positioned, your building may suffer damage due to its widespread roots.

As a general rule:

  • Small-sized trees are best positioned 10 to 15 feet away from the building.
  • Medium Sized Trees: 15 to 20 feet away.
  • Large Trees: 20+ feet away.
  • Large Shrubs: 10+ feet away.

Do Oak Trees Have Deep Roots? 

Understanding the root system is very important when it comes to planting trees near buildings. The root structure determines how strong and sturdy the tree will be when stricken by winds. It also determines how healthy the tree will be.

Oak trees have taproots that grow vertically for some distance before branching out as their chief support. This branch can run horizontally for as long as hundreds of miles, sourcing for minerals and moisture and transporting it back to the main tree. Most roots are not more than 18 inches below the ground.

How Far Do Oak Tree Roots Spread?

The oak tree root system begins with a taproot that goes deep from the trunk, leading to a connection of lateral roots that spread for as long as 90 feet from the trunk. Oak roots do not go more than 3 feet below the soil and around 2 feet below the surface in shallow soil.

How Much Room Does an Oak Tree Need? 

Ancient Angel Oak near Charleston

Oak trees are known for having wide branches and a canopy. Your spacing should accommodate its future expansion. This means you should locate your tree where there will be no obstruction.

The minimum room for an oak tree is 15 feet apart. This is for an instance where you intend to plant another oak beside it. Although oak branches are known to go along even if they are from separate oak trees, the best is to give them adequate room for them to flourish individually.

Do Oak Trees Cause Foundation Problems? 

Just like any other tree characterized by strong and wide roots, an oak tree can wreak havoc on your foundation if not properly spaced and managed.

Oaks have shallow roots with quick growth as they drain a lot of water from the soil. Being a hardwood, the roots can find their way under your foundation.

Below are signs that oak roots are under your building;

  1. Foundation damage such as cracks near the tree.
  2. Settlement due to moisture loss as the tree drains water beneath the foundation; the building tends to bend towards the area with moisture loss.

Do Oak Trees Fall Over Easily?

Oak trees grow up to 80 feet in height with a well-spread root (which grows beyond the canopy) as firm support and a heavy trunk as support.

With a strong hardwood root that drains water to support the tree, thereby giving it a balanced upper and lower structure, falling over easily doesn't always happen.

Of course, if any of the following happens to your tree, it may fall or die before time: 

  • When there is an obstruction in any of the roots' way due to construction, for example, that root channel finds it difficult to absorb water; as such, the branches it's serving dries off due to low nutrients. If this happens on a large scale, it can destabilize the tree.
  • Fungal decay in any part of the tree can also result in a nutrient shortage and rotting of the wood within your oak, thereby causing it to lean.
  • Loss of shape and vigor as a result of a deficiency in minerals and water indicates an unhealthy tree. The crown losing its shape and the trunk shrinking into a v-shape are all signs that your tree will likely fall if not taken care of.

How Do You Stop Oak Tree Roots From Growing? 

A woman plants a small oak tree in the forest, a volunteer helps to plant new trees in the forest

The method is the same when choosing to stop oak tree roots from sprouting, either after cutting down the tree or to prevent the roots from getting to your building.

  1. Trim the outgrown roots: you must be careful not to trim it more than 3 inches, or else the tree could die of malnutrition. Oak trees are known to lean and fall during storms as a result of abnormal trimming. This is why it is best to employ the service of experts.
  2. Dig a trench after cutting or trimming the roots. It is best to make the trench deep for the sake of aggressive roots.
  3. Install root barrier: before backfilling the trench, install a root barrier at its edge. 
  4. Apply herbicides to the edge of the barriers.
  5. Use herbicides on suckers. Most trees respond to cutting by sprouting new suckers from their root system. Apply herbicides to it until it no longer sprouts.

Why Are My Oak Tree Roots Above Ground?

Roots of a tree going out from the ground

Having roots above the ground is common with most landscaping trees, your oak tree is a typical example. These roots function as anchors for the oak tree, they even have feeder roots growing off them, and they collectively serve as oxygen inlets for the main tree. 

Due to their large sizes, big trees tend to need more oxygen which results in sending some parts of their roots above the ground. If these roots get damaged, the adverse effect will be on the main tree; it may also affect the canopy or trunk. This is why it is necessary to protect them:

  1. Do not leave them completely uncovered. It is best to cover them with a light layer of well-draining soil.
  2. During dry days or seasons, it is best to cover them with a coarse and organic layer of mulch as it slows down the evaporation rate, thereby keeping the tree healthy.
  3. Keep the surface roots dry in order to prevent rotting due to fungi action that attacks during moist weather.

To Sum Up

Charter Oak Tree, Danson Park, Bexleyheath, London, England

When dealing with a tree like the oak tree, your main focus should be centered on giving its roots necessary considerations in spacing, trimming, sprouts prevention, etc. When these are properly in place, the canopy and other elements will be in the best condition, and you can enjoy your time under its shade. 

For more articles on trees, check out these interesting posts:

10 Best Nut and Fruit Trees For Clay Soil 

How Much Water Does an Oak Tree Need?