P81111By ‘big trees’, I don’t mean the various ficus trees that can grow up to the ceiling, and be quite happy inside. I am referring to the shade trees that live out in the yard, or forest trees that live beyond that. They are outside for a reason . . . or actually, several reasons. They are too big to bring inside. They probably would not like the climate inside. No one wants to rake fallen autumn leaves inside. Well, you get the point.
Unfortunately, on rare occasion, big trees that are outside end up partly inside by falling or dropping limbs onto the homes that they provide shade for. Just like trees seem to fall onto certain types of cars more than others ( tonytomeo.com/2018/11/04/trees-hate-cars ), trees seem to fall onto certain types of homes more than others. The difference between the homes that trees seem to dislike and the cars that they seem to dislike, is that there are actually reasons why some types of architecture is more susceptible to falling limbs or trees.
First of all, just as some trees seem to avoid falling on cars, some seem to avoid falling on houses.
Coastal redwoods in landscape situations are remarkably stable. In my entire career, I have inspected only three that have fallen. One had a massive pair of trunks that split apart and fell away from each other. Although they were on the fence line between two closely set urban homes, and there was almost no place for them to fall without destroying one home or another, they did the seemingly impossible. They literally fell onto the property line. One trunk fell out into the street. The other fell back into the backyards of the homes behind. The fence was pressed into the ground. The landscapes were seriously damaged. Gutters were stripped from both adjacent homes. Otherwise, there was NO structural damage to any of the homes. I am still amazed at how minimal the damage was!
The massive coast live oak two doors down from my former home in town was just as talented. It sprawled out over its associated home and the front yards of the two adjacent homes. It was so broad that I would not have believed that it could have fallen down without destroying one of the homes. Yet, it did exactly that . . . as I watched from my dining room. During a windy storm, it fell right toward me, and landed squarely in the front yard next door. It broke a few rafters on the edges of the eaves, and tore the gutters off, but that was the worst of the damage. It somehow found the best spot to fall where it would cause the least amount of damage.
Not all homes are so fortunate.
Victorian homes though, do not seem to be targeted by trees as much as others are. Most are closer to downtown, away from tall or very broad forest trees. Many are on somewhat narrow parcels that can not accommodate disproportionately large trees like the coast live oak in the picture above. Broadly sprawling trees tend to be too low to extend their limbs over the roofs of taller two story Victorian homes. Although taller than most other types of homes, two story Victorian homes do not occupy as much area as other homes, so are not such big targets.
Low profile homes of ranch architecture, or similar types of architecture, are more likely to be damaged by falling limbs or trees. Many happen to be located in suburban or rural areas, closer to bigger and broader forest trees. Their wider parcels can accommodate larger trees. Their roofs are low enough for trees to extend limbs over. Because they tend to be on a single level, they occupy more area, so are larger targets.

15 thoughts on “Big Trees Are Bad Houseplants

    1. Oh! That is another topic! That is a common theme in urban areas of San Jose. As much as I dislike laws that forbid removal or even pruning of trees on private property, such offenses make it obvious why such ordinances are necessary.

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      1. Ordinances are disclosed when someone purchases a property within a municipality. There are some, particularly in municipalities that only recently adopted their ordinances, who are not aware. There are also those who just do not care. What bothers me is that average homeowners are sometimes fined for cutting down smaller trees that they did not know were protected, but the same laws are more lax for developers who cut down trees indiscriminately, and without permits.

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      2. Developers bring in big money. Miami used to be a paradise, and it’s now concrete all over. Developers deforested everywhere and continue to do so just to bring new housing. Tropical trees have been depleted in these areas and have been replaced with ornamental bottleneck palms.

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    1. Yes. It is also sad when someone moves into a home where such distinguished trees live, and cuts the trees down. Although I believe that it should be legal to do so, I would also like to believe that people would have enough common sense and respect for their community to not do so. I mean, buy a home that is devoid of trees.


  1. Ours is a 1960’s era PA neighborhood of ranch homes & 2 story’s. One long main street, some cul de sacs, and an ancient winding creek that surrounds us giving us the drone-appearance of a tiny Florida. Most yards are nearly half acre with house in center. Because of the creek we have deer, eagles, herons, turtles, fox, ducks, etc. Pin Oaks were planted – two to everyone’s front lot edge. No sidewalks, no street lamps. Most of us have tall lamplights midway down our driveway, and plant hydrangea, azalea, rhododendron, peony in beds some feet out from our foundations. Hemlocks diseased out, but we still have some pines and firs. Suggest other “good” trees we could plant on side or rear yards? Many of the dogwoods and crabapple are dying. Maybe just remove and replace? Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my, there are TOO many variables to consider. I am not acquainted with the climates, soils or pathogens of the region, so would not be qualified to recommend trees for it, even if I could see it. I enjoy my work here, and am very qualified for it, but only because I am more familiar with the region than most, and even here, I must get acquainted with each specific situation.


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