Does anyone have any first-hand experience in knowing the chances of
an Aristocrat Flowering Pear Tree causing damage to a home's
I have a neighbor who decided to plant an Aristocrat Flowering Pear
Tree about 5 feet from our property line and about 17 feet from my
foundation in highly expansive clay soil that is watered almost year
round: in Califorina where we go long spells without rain. I have
water lines and sprinkler lines within feet of that tree, and a water
line about seven feet from it.
One of my concerns with this tree is potential root damage to my
home's foundation, concrete driveway, and anything I decide to put in
that area in the the future.
I've been researching root barriers, and the one idea I'm debating is
putting in a 4 to 6 feet deep (below ground) rebar reenforced concrete
wall along our property line to keep this tree from damaging my
property. Does anyone know how effective root barriers are at
different depths in the soil?
How well would a rebar reenforced below-ground wall work?
Any other ideas for an effective root barrier system?
Has anyone ever had any success in taking a neighbor to court for
intentionally planting a tree that they know will encroach on your
land and will likely damage your propery over time?
I once had a neighbor that forced me to remove an Apple tree
because every year it dropped Apples in his yard. He said
his dogs ate the apples and it made them sick. About six
years after the tree was removed he lost his property when
the bank foreclosed on it. I wasn't sorry to see him and
his family go.
You're in luck, then. Pyrus calleryana 'Aristocrat' is very popular
as an urban and street tree, because it's a very attractive undemanding
tree that isn't prone to causing problems with the sidewalks/roads.
It's also very tolerant of variable soil and water conditions.
What is your specific concern here? I notice that you've mentioned
that your soil is watered year 'round, which is fairly unusual in
California - and certainly not particularly mindful of the water
problems in many parts of California. Is there something unusual in
your garden that you think that this tree will bother?
Actually your neighbour has planted a tree that's very commonly used
in landscaping because it -won't- damage your property over time. It
wolud be very hard for you to make any sort of case in the first place,
and given that the tree in question isn't known to be problematic,
Other people have said this in a less friendly way, but it does sound
as though your primary concern here isn't the tree, and what the tree
might do to your property, as much as being able to carry on some sort
of disagreement with your neighbour.
Without having any idea what the issues are [nor quite frankly wishing
to], it might be worthwhile to attempt mediation to resolve whatever
the outstanding issues are.
"A cat spends her life conflicted between a deep, passionate and profound
I noticed your mention of expansive soil - an engineering term. I
have some understanding of geotechnical engineering problems
associated with expansive soil - did some consulting in Asia where it
was causing big time problems with rail road embankments during
Expansive soil can and does cause structural damage to buildings if
there is insufficient recognition of the problem during design. In
your case, if the water causes the soil to expand in a way that was
not anticipated, then yes, damage can occur. In your area there is
probably a recognition of the problem and building practices may be
such that these problems can be accommodated. I would not speculate on
what damage could occur not knowing the technical details. A local
geotechnical expert in you area can however.
Another problem that occurs with trees is *reduction* of the
groundwater from evapotranspiration in clay soils, consequent
consolidation of the clay stratum, and settlements of the structure
founded on the stratum. This is usually associated with large trees
like oaks so a relatively small pear tree may not apply... The thing
is, you neighbour by watering may be balancing the equation.
As for root barriers - that is a new one to me. I would assume it
woud be a costly solution for you - you better make sure there is real
danger of damage. But as I have hopefully indicated, you might have a
legitimate concern. Please let me know how this turns out.
Hedley in Canada.
On 18 Jul 2004 16:58:36 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org (Frank)
I think you should go ahead and do your 6' deep concrete root barrier. The
demoltion and construction--not to mention expense--associated with that
will give you something else to bitch about rather than your neighbor.
While you are at it, why don't you just build a concrete castle wall with
broken glass shards on top between you? Go ahead and put it around the
whole property. Don't forget the gun/obersvation towers. Good fences make
good neighbors after all. And you sound like you need a really good fence
in order to have really good neighbors and to protect yourself from the evil
and dangerous pear planters that you have running amok in your community.
In some municipalities there are "spite laws" which restrict the intentional
planting of trees to cause problems - generally blocking views - but it is a
random application and even when present, difficult if not impossible to
prove. Otherwise, there are no restrictions (other than possible
neighborhood covenants) as to what to plant and where on one's property
trees can be located. If no covenants exist and it is planted 5 feet away
from the property line, then you are SOL.
However, an 'Aristocrat' pear planted 17 feet away from your foundation is
unlikely to cause any problems, expansive soil or not. This tree simply does
not have a destructive or particularly surface-oriented root system.
It sounds like you have issues well beyond the selection and placement of
your neighbor's tree. Suggest you might want to consult a therapist rather
than an arborist or attorney. OTOH, constructing that reinforced concrete
below grade wall might be an excellent way of working off some of that
pam - gardengal
Is this caused by the roots taking moisture out of the soil?
Taking this on a tangent, we can literally go 7 months without any
rain and plenty of dry baking heat, and so this highly expansive clay
really dries out around our foundation, one idea I've heard is to put
in irrigation drippers around the foundation to keep the moisture
content consistent year-round. Do you have any opinions on doing
On Mon, 19 Jul 2004 15:59:29 GMT, email@example.com wrote:
But the tree is also providing shade, thereby reducing the amount of
evapration directly from the soil, so the likely net effect is zero.
Check this link for a discussion of the issue from a decidedly
Since you are watering the soil to avoid too much drying out under the
foundation, you probably do not have to worry about this.
ISA Certified Arborist
For more info about the International Society of Arboriculture, please visit
For consumer info about tree care, visit http://www.treesaregood.com /
I hope the Aristocrat is better than the Bradford. The latter is a very
rapidly growing, flowering pear that is notorious for breaking in moderate
winds. There are many in my neighborhood that are approaching 15 years old.
Every time we have a storm, one or two split or drop large limbs.
These trees are very susceptible to fire blight (Erwinia amylovora). You
could claim you are an amateur biologist experimenting with this
bacterium and setup your culture generators next to the tree (on your
property). Then make the equipment have a little "accident" and release
all the pathogens on the tree. The chances of the tree recovering are
actually quite slim if you do it right.
Here is another idea but will take extraordinary acting ability. Start a
hobby as a chainsaw juggler and practice by the tree. Then pretend you
are having an epileptic seizure and saw the tree down. The trick is to
tell the police you were just doing routine practice and suddenly saw
sparks and flashes. Then the next thing you remember is you were laying
on the ground and the tree was sawed down. I used this technique to beat
my neighbor to a pulp a few years ago. I pretended to have an epileptic
seizure and started to pummel his face after I caught him looking at my
daughter in an un-christian way at a 4th of July BBQ I threw for everyone
on the block.
I know this advice is very valuable - no charge pal !
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