A home with large trees in the front lawn.

Removing a Tree From Your Lawn

Updated May 1, 2018 . AmFam Team

A good, mature tree is excellent for the environment and the aesthetics of your home. But what happens when they become a nuisance, threatening your roof or reducing visibility? Here are some tips for safely removing a mature tree from your lawn.

By: HomeAdvisor (Opens in a new tab)

Mature trees are as good for curb appeal as they are for the environment. Sadly, they can also become a liability. Trees can threaten your roof, drip damaging sap on your vehicle, significantly reduce natural light inside and wreak havoc on your plumbing, driveway or foundation. So, how do you take care of your property without diminishing its natural appeal?

The answer is typically your local tree removal service. Using safe methods and an experienced crew, a good tree removal service will make fast work of large trees that threaten your home's security. Thankfully, some companies can help you find and plant a replacement tree that’s safer for your home and lawn.

Trees to Avoid

Trees that flower, produce fruit or provide pleasant shade once they reach maturity are among the most coveted varieties. Though you may want to avoid popular species with invasive root systems:

  • Willow tree roots instinctively reach for sources of water, like plumbing pipes and septic tanks.
  • Oak roots can stretch 100 feet, burrowing under sidewalks and chiseling through foundations.
  • Magnolia roots grow along the surface of the ground and contribute to lawn deformities.
  • Poplar root systems are aggressive and can create problems up to 450 feet away from the trunk.
  • Birch roots are notorious for wide-spread destruction that block water and drain pipes.

These trees grow to be large and sprout beautiful cover, but they're also expensive to support. Other tree varieties can be troublesome. Ash trees attract pests like the emerald ash borer. Aspen trees grow in clusters, sharing a root system that can quickly become a forest of aspen clones (Opens in a new tab). So, before you fill up your yard with new trees, research to find the best options for you.

Best Trees to Plant in Your Yard

While choosing the right trees may seem overwhelming, there are many varieties to pursue. Consider planting native tree species or ask your local garden center for non-invasive ornamental species. On your next trip to the garden center, consider these trees instead:

  • Maple
  • Dogwood
  • Thornless Honey locust
  • Crape Myrtle
  • Crabapple

These produce abundant leaves for shade. Dogwood and crabapple add magnificent, seasonal blooms. Most importantly? They're safer on plumbing and are less imposing than poplar or oak.

Look for species that boast smaller, slow-growing roots. And plan to replace them intermittently before they can cause trouble or pass along disease to neighboring trees. Gardening pros and arborists (Opens in a new tab) are a great resource to find the best, safest trees for your lawn and home.

Hazards of Dead and Dying Trees

A lot of trees have become diseased in recent decades leading to deadly epidemics among species. For example, oak trees can suffer from almost a dozen diseases (Opens in a new tab). Oak trees, and other sensitive varieties, respond to things like trauma, fungus, flooding and a disrupted balance of air and water.

Should you ignore a tree if it’s showing symptoms of disease or disruption? Usually not.

If you have a dead or dying tree in your yard, there's the potential for property damage and injury. Storms and disease can cause threats such as:

  • Throwback: When a tree falls onto another tree or object, turning it into shrapnel-like pieces.
  • Lodging: When a tree falls and becomes stuck, or lodged, at an angle. These can become dislodged unpredictably and cause damage to underlying property.
  • Springpoles: The effect of one tree falling on another bent, unbroken tree laying on the ground.
  • Widowmakers: OSHA uses this term to describe large, dead branches or broken tree tops that are temporarily caught in the canopy.
  • Snag: A dead tree that needs to be professionally felled so it doesn't become a different type of threat.

How to Remove a Dead Tree

There's only one safe way to remove a dead tree—call a professional. Review the cost of removing a tree (Opens in a new tab), and call in a professional tree-removal service. If possible, choose a service that employs a certified arborist who can give you advice on other potential tree hazards on your property, and suggest options for appropriate species if you’re looking to replant in the future.

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