Darker Side of Uncontrolled Landscaping

Houses with mature landscaping are always appreciated. The overall effect they have of softening hard surfaces or breaking up rectangular lines makes for a most attractive first impression. However, there is a dark side to all the trees, shrubs and vines that grow in close proximity to a house, and most of that impact is hidden from view.

Our West Vancouver home inspector has identified various issues related to vegetation that negatively impact a house. Here’s a summary of concerns and potential problems:

  1. Proximity to the House: Trees and large shrubs that are too close to the house can pose a significant risk. Their roots can damage the foundation, and branches can rub against or even penetrate the siding, leading to water infiltration and structural damage.
  2. Overhanging Branches: Trees with branches overhanging the roof can drop leaves, twigs, and sap, which can accumulate in gutters and lead to clogs. Additionally, during storms, overhanging branches can break and damage the roof, windows, or siding.
  3. Ivy and Climbing Plants: While they may look charming, ivy and other climbing plants can harm the exterior surfaces of the house. They can trap moisture against the walls, accelerating decay and encouraging pests like termites. Removing ivy can also damage the underlying surfaces.
  4. Root Invasion: Trees with aggressive root systems can infiltrate sewer lines, causing blockages and costly repairs. They can also damage underground utilities, such as water and gas lines.
  5. Inadequate Drainage: Plants too close to the foundation can obstruct proper water drainage, leading to moisture problems in basements or crawl spaces. In some cases, it may even result in flooding.
  6. Fire Hazard: In regions prone to wildfires, homes with vegetation too close to the structure can be at risk. Dry vegetation can serve as fuel for fires, making it essential to maintain a defensible space around the house.
  7. Pest Attraction: Overgrown vegetation can provide hiding places for pests such as rodents and insects, potentially leading to infestations that can spread to the house.
  8. Allergens: Some types of vegetation may produce allergens that can affect the health of occupants, particularly those with allergies or respiratory conditions.
  9. Aesthetics: While not necessarily a structural issue, overgrown or unkempt vegetation can negatively impact the curb appeal of the house, potentially affecting its resale value.

To address these issues, a West Vancouver home inspector may recommend:

  • Pruning or removing overgrown plants and trees to maintain a safe distance from the house.
  • Regular maintenance of gutters and downspouts to prevent clogs caused by fallen debris.
  • Treating or removing climbing plants that are causing damage.
  • Installing root barriers if aggressive tree roots are a concern.
  • Ensuring proper drainage away from the foundation.
  • Compliance with local fire safety regulations regarding vegetation management.

It’s crucial for homeowners to work with a qualified arborist or landscaper to address these issues while preserving the beauty of the property. Additionally, homeowners should consult local bylaws and regulations regarding vegetation management, especially in areas prone to natural disasters like wildfires.