root barriers -- protecting property from neighbor's trees

Does anyone have any first-hand experience in knowing the chances of an Aristocrat Flowering Pear Tree causing damage to a home's foundation?
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?
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On 18 Jul 2004 16:58:36 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Frank) wrote:

You must a real fun guy to live next to. . .
deg
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"Frank" wrote

Good Grief! I pity the people of California for having to put up with you.
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Pogo wrote:

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.
--
Bill R. (Ohio Valley, U.S.A)

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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, even harder.
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.
cheers!
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Hi Frank:
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 monsoon ..
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, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Frank) wrote:

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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.
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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 latent hostility.
pam - gardengal
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LQQK,

Is this caused by the roots taking moisture out of the soil?
http://www.marinwater.org/evapotranspiration.html
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 that?
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On 19 Jul 2004 08:01:02 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Frank) wrote:

Yes.
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On Mon, 19 Jul 2004 15:59:29 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@mi.sig 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 tree-friendly engineer: http://users.rcn.com/bobw.enteract/UKSubsidence2.2.html
Since you are watering the soil to avoid too much drying out under the foundation, you probably do not have to worry about this.
Keith Babberney ISA Certified Arborist For more info about the International Society of Arboriculture, please visit http://www.isa-arbor.com/home.asp . For consumer info about tree care, visit http://www.treesaregood.com /
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Fascinating, thank you!
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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.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Frank) wrote in

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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