How far away from house to clear trees?
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    IndianaJim's Avatar
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    How far away from house to clear trees?

    Hi all.
    Let me just start by saying I hate Ash trees, or more accurately, Emerald Ash Borers that kill Ash trees.
    I had a 70 footer fall this Spring that was a good portion of the reason I now own a 2025R (that pushed my wife over the edge). Trouble is, they keep falling before I can get to them.
    Had one just two days ago fall late at night, and luckily for my garage and cars, there were several large trees in the way that caused it to deflect and break up or Id not be a happy camper right now. It was over 100' tall.

    Anyway, due to the Spring tree, Ive been working on clearing back trees and making a sort of "safe zone" that is tree free around the house.
    We live in the middle of a 5.5 acre woods, and the trees, other than the driveway and the front yard, are as close as 10' from the house. When we bought the place, I had planned to clear out quite a bit to have a larger yard and more sunlight on the house, garage and driveway to limit mildew growth and allow things to dry out.
    Things have changed a bit with that plan so that now Ive come up with a 40' buffer. This distance is to the trunk, not the canopy, but will eliminate anything overhanging buildings. All trees in that zone are going, and its a lot of mostly small ones. There are a few nice large trees that Ill leave alone if they are healthy, but mostly, Im done worrying about a tree landing on the house in the middle of the night, or any other time for that matter.
    Most of my trouble is due to the previous, and only, owners of this house/land not keeping up with the trees near the house. It appears they just let them grow wherever they sprouted up, and thats not necessarily a good idea...FYI.

    Anyone done anything like this before? Any suggestions on the distance to the house?

    Anyone know what types of trees are prone to wind damage?
    We have Sycamore, Maple, Beech, a couple types of Hickory, Oak, Hackberry, and Basswood as the most common near the house.
    Sadly, because its a beautiful tree, a monster Sycamore has to go, but it drops a TON of stuff on the driveway every year, so its not a big loss, there are several more just as big out in the woods.
    Last edited by IndianaJim; 10-06-2018 at 12:22 PM.
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    userjh160's Avatar
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    We did something similar this spring. Family that built the house left huge pines in the back. Like you, I was worried about trees coming down on us in storms during the night. We had a tornado go by a few miles from us and demolished a neighbors house. That pushed my wife to agree with me that they needed to go.

    Our bad weather typically comes from the west, so we had about 35 trees dropped on the west side of the house by a tree service. We sold them to a small local logger to recoup a little of the cost. Cleared out about a 100' half circle. Only one is left that can reach us, but it's far enough away to just whip the house rather than go through it, it can't reach the bedroom at all. I sleep a lot better on stormy nights.

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    If you want to be sure

    If you want to be sure nothing will hit your house you have to clear as far away as the trees are tall. Lots of ways to ensure you have the right distance- sight to the tree top at a 45 degree angle, use proportional measurement etc. but the only way to be sure is to get rid of the trees that could hit the house, garage, etc.

    I feel for you, we've had two trees hit our house. One did minimal damage the other was pretty bad. (It's not fun putting a tarp on a tree and roof in the middle of a tropical storm.) We've since been removing trees but still have several that could hit the house.

    If you want some trees, just make sure they are not so tall. Poplars in our area tend to go down, sycamores shed limbs, beech are messy but are pretty stable usually. I've taken out all the gum trees and almost all the poplar trees except for a couple in the front that are leaning away from the house.

    You can hedge your bets some by leaving trees closer to the house on the south side of the house as they will likely grow more toward the south toward the sun. Conversely you probably need all the buffer possible on the north side of the house.

    The emerald ash borer is a tragedy as ash trees are wonderful. Nice shade, wonderful lumber and great firewood. I'd put the ash loss up there close to the chestnut tree loss.

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    IndianaJim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by userjh160 View Post
    We did something similar this spring. Family that built the house left huge pines in the back. Like you, I was worried about trees coming down on us in storms during the night. We had a tornado go by a few miles from us and demolished a neighbors house. That pushed my wife to agree with me that they needed to go.

    Our bad weather typically comes from the west, so we had about 35 trees dropped on the west side of the house by a tree service. We sold them to a small local logger to recoup a little of the cost. Cleared out about a 100' half circle. Only one is left that can reach us, but it's far enough away to just whip the house rather than go through it, it can't reach the bedroom at all. I sleep a lot better on stormy nights.

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
    I may move it to 50'. Id been thinking of doing that anyway. That would give me about a 130' diameter circle (from the center of the house) with no trees, or very few anyway.
    Being in Indiana, we have tornados as a fairly regular occurrence, along with some darn strong straight line winds from time to time. Im tired of worrying about which tree will land on the house.

    Quote Originally Posted by Treefarmer View Post
    If you want to be sure nothing will hit your house you have to clear as far away as the trees are tall. Lots of ways to ensure you have the right distance- sight to the tree top at a 45 degree angle, use proportional measurement etc. but the only way to be sure is to get rid of the trees that could hit the house, garage, etc.

    I feel for you, we've had two trees hit our house. One did minimal damage the other was pretty bad. (It's not fun putting a tarp on a tree and roof in the middle of a tropical storm.) We've since been removing trees but still have several that could hit the house.

    If you want some trees, just make sure they are not so tall. Poplars in our area tend to go down, sycamores shed limbs, beech are messy but are pretty stable usually. I've taken out all the gum trees and almost all the poplar trees except for a couple in the front that are leaning away from the house.

    You can hedge your bets some by leaving trees closer to the house on the south side of the house as they will likely grow more toward the south toward the sun. Conversely you probably need all the buffer possible on the north side of the house.

    The emerald ash borer is a tragedy as ash trees are wonderful. Nice shade, wonderful lumber and great firewood. I'd put the ash loss up there close to the chestnut tree loss.

    Treefarmer
    Im mostly after being sure that nothing 2' in diameter hits the house, lol. The tops wont do too much damage, or at least the tops of the ones I leave.
    I have plenty of buffer all around (or hope to space wise after all is said and done), but plan to add some Arborvitaes here and there as a privacy type hedge and for a wind break. The wind can be brutal in the Winter.

    Since Ive posted this, I had another Ash drop. Its out in the woods, near my burn pile, which is handy I guess.

    The worst part about all of this is that I cant possibly use all the wood. Most will go to waste.
    Ive tried giving it away before, cut to firewood length, but not split, and actually had a friend of a friend want to argue with me about splitting it or they wouldnt take it. Fine by me, its free. Even stacking it for someone to take is more work than piling it up and burning it.

    I cut two 100'+ trees down, one early Spring, one early Summer and still have wood to split from the second. Now Ive got two more on the ground, and ONE is MORE than enough wood for me for a year. We have a wood burning fireplace, but since they are so inefficient, we dont use it very often when its really cold, but with a hot enough fire, it will heat the house if necessary in a power outage.
    Last edited by IndianaJim; 10-07-2018 at 06:29 PM.
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    Have you heard about the danger of cutting those affected ash trees?

    I have seen several threads about those trees being called "widow makers"

    I would rather have that tree fall on the house, than fall on me,,, the house can be replaced,, there is only one "me"!!

    Consider getting a pro to drop those ash trees, even if they look "good",,
    many have said how the trees will unexpectedly break half way up the tree,,
    the saw is running, and all of a sudden, you have the upper half of the tree come down on you,,,,
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    I would agree with CAD, find someone with experience to drop the diseased trees, stack them in a burn pile and be done with it.

    Donít risk a diseased tree blowing out on you, not worth it.


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    IndianaJim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CADplans View Post
    Have you heard about the danger of cutting those affected ash trees?

    I have seen several threads about those trees being called "widow makers"

    I would rather have that tree fall on the house, than fall on me,,, the house can be replaced,, there is only one "me"!!

    Consider getting a pro to drop those ash trees, even if they look "good",,
    many have said how the trees will unexpectedly break half way up the tree,,
    the saw is running, and all of a sudden, you have the upper half of the tree come down on you,,,,
    I know about that, well.
    There are ways to tell if they are good or not before you start cutting, or rather soon after if done correctly.
    Around here, "widow maker" refers to a tree leaning against another, or a large piece of a tree hung up in another. I cant say Ive ever heard standing trees called that, but Im no tree terminology expert!

    My neighbor and I are the pros around here (semi-pro more like it), until they get real close to things and have to be dropped within a few inches of their target to avoid damage.
    Ive been at it a while, and hes been at it a lot longer. Actual money making pros we are not though...
    I do have a few that I wont do myself, due to their lean, but they arent Ash, and arent dead. Whatever is under them when they fall sure will be dead though!

    Anyway, no worries about these trees. At least not when everything is done properly. There arent that many left out here. None are alive. I believe at last count I had about 5 left to drop before they drop themselves, and my neighbor about the same. The rest have all either come down on their own, or we helped them along.
    At least 7 have gone down in the last 2 years or so. Sure is a shame.
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    I took out (22) 75-90' oaks and 1 white pine around our house pushing back the perimeter to about 75'. I didn't worry about the oaks coming down but pines are a problem. More important to me is that we get a lot of rain/snow and the house wasn't getting any air circulation. I had rotting facia, windows, and siding. The previous owners just let anything grow wherever.

    To be safe I hired a guy with a bucket truck and it took him a full week to get everything down. It was costly but I won't let it get away from me in the future. The house has dried out nicely. Plus I stacked most of the logs so I have firewood for life, lol.
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    We purchased 26 acres to build a house on.
    About 22 are wooded. We built our house way in the back corner of the property in an old farm field away from the woods.
    No leaves to rake, sunshine in the winter, no falling trees and no wet musty mildew in the summer.

    I would never have a house in the woods.

    If I had to clear around a house for trees I'd look at height of trees and subtract about 20% and that how far I'd make the larger trees from the house.
    A small crab apple tree 20 ft from house or similar thing would not worry me.
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    When we built our house I had the idea of clearing enough trees so that if anything fell it wouldnít hit the house.

    Well after 6 months of evening s and weekend I gave up.

    Now itís coming back to get me. I have a few big oaks that are dying off. About 80í-90í high. There are a couple Iíll do myself as they are leaning the correct way and all the weight is away from the house.

    The others Iíll have to have an arborist come in and drop them. We have an Amish gentleman her that is good. Charges around $300 a tree to put it on the ground. Iíll do he cleanup from there.

    Itís not cheap but a lot cheaper than me getting hurt or have the house get hit.

    This is the size of most of the trees I had to take down when clearing. Thatís a 20Ē bar in the nearest chainsaw.


    A fraction of what got turned into firewood.



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