How close to my house may I safely plant a Leylandii hedge ?


The fact is, about 10 years ago, I planted a Leylandii hedge about 3.5 mtrs from myhouse a few years ago. The assistant in the shop where I bought them, misled me into thinking that if I "nipped the tops out" when they reached the height I desired, they would not grow any more! Having seen how fast they grow, and presumably the roots too, I'm getting concerned that the roots could weaken my house's foundations and drains. The house was built in 1899 using lime mortar and presumably with a brick foundation. I'm thinking of chopping them all down before the roots can spread any further. The hedge is now about 12 feet tall, and that's after having been pruned down a couple of times.
Should I cut them all down? Would privet cause less of a danger to the house and drains?
Thanks for any advice.
Frank
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Leylandii is a wonderful evergreen solid hedge, but....
You have to decide in advance how high you want it and once it reaches that height trim it ruthlessly at least once a year. The trimmings have a wonderful smell when they are burned. You'll need a powered hedge trimmer if you've got a fair length of hedge. It also absorbs sound well.
It doesn't stop growing. The trunks will continue to get thicker. If untrimmed L will reach 60m I believe. I saw a mockup of a suburb where the real Ls in the starting picture were modelled growing for 50 years. It was like the Redwood forests in the states.
I don't think that it is deep-rooted. High Ls blow over in high winds where I live, on very light soil. I think that means they are no risk to drains. They do dry the ground but being evergreen I guess will not cause subsidence. Anyone know better?
Peter Scott ________________________________________________________________

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On Sat, 16 Aug 2003 17:28:10 GMT, Frank Watson wrote:

I have leylandii hedges all around my place. They give us superb privacy, and to be honest I wouldn't dream of getting rid of them. They were planted by a previous owner quite a few years ago, and have developed into a hedge some 2 or 3m deep by a good 4 to 5m high. They're a sod to trim, they need cutting every six to eight weeks - this year is the first time I've done it. I've always had someone else in to do it i the past. The problem is getting rid of the clippings - with something like 60 to 70m of hedging in three sections there are a bloddy lot of clippings.
The trees don't put down deep roots, we took a few out along one border, and the main part of the root system didn't go more than 400 - 500mm deep. I had someone grind the stumps out. As to how they affect the resale price, well, I'd stress the privacy aspect.
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I chopped down a Lleylandii a few years ago. It was perhaps 40 to 60 feet high and perched right behind a retaining wall. It withstood many a gale and didn't damge the wall so I guess the root system must have been fairly substantial.
This summer did I removed the part of the wall next to the stump due to another problem. The roots are thick and strong four feet down and go deeper. Perhaps if you trim the tree to keep it hedge size it needs less support (mecahnical and nutrients) so the root system isn't forced to develop beyond a certain point?
W.
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On Sun, 17 Aug 2003 08:32:48 +0100, Tony Williams

Tony, That's an interesting comment; thanks for it.. Actually, my hedge is only about 20 ft long, so I doubt if it would deter anyone from buying the house. (They could easily have the hedge cut down if they can't hack the prospect of keeping it trimmed).
I'm still hoping someone with experience of the following will offer some info into how much of a threat the hedge is to my house's foundations - especially if I cut it down, and the roots rot away. Does anyone know how far Leylandii roots spread, radially, outwards from the trunk?
Thanks
Frank
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Not for a hedge, but we cut down three Leylandii type conifers in the front last year. I dug down alongside the stump of one of them, the one close to the road. About 12" down there was a massive horizontal root, about 5" diameter, heading straight under the road, (and towards all underground services in the road).
--
Tony Williams.

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Frank Watson wrote:

They are not the worst by a LONG chalk.
Deep diving tap roots are not so much an issue as wide spreading roots near the surface. I believe that Ash, and Willow are the two worst in this respect. Certainly willow roots will travel as far wide as the tree is tall - and anecdotally further. Ash is also bad news allegedly. When I bult my house adjacaent (3m) to some trees- ash, maple, and indeed a short stretch of very well hacked about Leylandii, they made me go down nearly 3m on that bit of the foundation. OTOH I have other trees that are further way, that they really didn't fuss about too much. The ASH tree had definitely lifted the old pathway that used to run down the side, and there is a local road with a ridge running across it that points directly at another ash tree. That road is about 10foot wide with teh teree in a hedge...somewaht above the road.
Frankly, for small leylandii, I'd gues at 3m being fine. If you let it go to redwood dimensions, I'd double that. But not much more. They don't go both far AND deep, and therefore will stop at teh wall foundations. Its the nes that go deep and wide - the ash and willow - that are teh real problems.
Building regulations give the following guidelines for
(a) Poplars, elms or willows; The foundations should be 1.5m for a distance aay equal to the height of the mature tree, up to 2.8m deep if closer than 1/4 mature height. These are teh ones that suck moisture really hard.
(b) Other trees, foundations 1m-2.4meters for distances between 1, and one quarter of the mature height.
(c) If near a bank of trees, increase depths by up to 50%
In no case do they talk about being closer than 1/4 the mature height, and so that should presumably be regarded as a safe limit.
The regs. also say that 'building on shallow foundations should be more than 1.5 tims the tree height away from it, or if a bank of trees, twice the height away' (paraphrased for brevity)
So that is the gude to erecting NEW structuires near trees. Needless to say its written to more or less guarantee no problems with any tree on any soil with any acceptable foundation quality. Its mainy there to adress issues of curtting foundations through tree rooots, which leads to localised increased levels of water as the tree roots die, and subsequent heave.
It doesn't say what the issues are in the case of planting trees near an existing foundation.
My *guess* is, that the real issues are
(i) If the tree roots run *to* the foundations, they will swell themselves, and also dehydrate the soil on the outside of the wall. This may affect paths, but not necessarily the foundations, tho some *sideways* pressure will be inevitable. You can possibly alleviate this by trenching around teh foundations and back filling with gravel or whatebver to abosrb movement on the outside soil.
(ii) If they run UNDER the fundations, you are in potentially very bad trouble indeed. They may easily lift sections, or collapse sections, according to the root swell/dehyrdation factor as to whether its subsidence or heave. When I originally nought my house, the insurance company stipulated that I must keep the nearby trees lopped, which I never did - I just knocked the house down in the end and rebuilt to the regulations. But it does give an indication that unchecked tree growth beside a house is actuarily significant enough for it to be an insurance issue.
Corection for this kind of problem would inolve trenching, root cutting and underpinning to a significant depth, so I'd say look long and hard at letting trees reach significant size near a house. AND the remedial work is likely to render a blow-over in a gale more likely too.
Having said all of that - as general dumping of accumulated scraps of knowledge and experience. I did have a fairly tall leylandii about 8 foot from one corner of the old house, that had a bole about 18 inches across and was about 10 m tall. Not that old. I cut tha down, and burned out the stump by simply lighting fires on it untill it was enough below soil to cover over (lovely crops of wood eating fungi for years afterwards)
When we demolsihed te house, that corner, despite having foundations that seemed to consist of three rows of bricks laid straight onto wet clay :-) were in no worse shape than the rest of the house.
So in PRACTICAL terms, if you are triming your leylandii below riudge height, and they are better than 3m away, I don't think they will cause you much real trouble. OTOH any surveyor who sees em is going to putrse his lips in that peculiar way, and teh incoming residents insurance company is going to want to see them removed or lopped, or possibly ebne refuse insurance, so the potential reslae value of the house will not be good. Moral is to remove them well before you sell, so that all traces are gone, and teh actual decay of the roots hasn't caused visible problems yet. Say 2 years :-)
Or, if you just want to play safe, no trees of a heght greater than their distance from the house should be allowed to grow.
Period.

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wrote:
Everything you said was very helpful. Thank you for the substantial reply. I feel much more in-the-picture after reading:

Many thanks!
Frank
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wrote:

Interesting comment. I share the view. When I lived in town I had a next door neighbour who used a leylandii hedge as a bully tactic! I lost a lot of light in my house and I learned the lesson. When buying my next house I looked closely at the hedges , especially the leyland before I bought.
Also re point about maintainance. I have such a hedge bounding my current property. Its a b*gger . I need large ladders to get up to it from my land. Ive just spent two weeks with two others helping to cut it down.
I now have a major bonfire heap! Its not just cutting. Its disposal of the waste.
A couple of years ago my neighbour on the other side of this hedge ( I dont have near neighbours btw) put his house up for sale. It didnt sell. Its been on the market for the whole of two years.
A few weeks ago he approached me asking if he could have the leyland cut down to about three feet because he had no light in his house! Now I didnt know this because as I said, he isnt a "near" neighbour and Ive never been on his property! Anyway, I helped him cut it down and realised how close he was built to that boundary.
Two weeks later he sold his house. So it could indeed have an effect.
By the way, so severe is the cut back on this hedge, I suspect I am going to have to replace it with something ..... I think its not going to survive the cut. Thats another problem with leylandii. It grows out and up and dies back in the centre. It will not recover from the old wood ( unlike private for example) so its not possible to keep it cut and to one height permanently. It will always creep up and eventually be out of control.
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[huge snip, similar to our experiences]

ISTR that severe haircutting of conifers should only be done in the Spring, otherwise they will not recover.
--
Tony Williams.

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mike r
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Mich wrote:

Not quite true, it will indeed die completely if cut back too aggressively, BUT if you wait till it is - say - 50% taller than you want, then cut back to half that - i.e. 75% of intended height, it will sprout from the top enough to form a decent hedge, BUT it needs cutting at least twice a year, and the odd one will sometimes just die.
Hazel is as bad by the way - huge sprouts needing a lot of trimming every few months.
If you want to get a natural hedge going, my advice is to plant a double row - what you want to end up with on the outside, and leylanndii inside for rapid 'privacy' and after 5 years rip out the leylandii, and you should have - if enough light got in - a decent hedge of something else.
I like Yew and Holly as evergreen hedging. In the climate of the last few years these have both been surprisingly fast growers - up to a foot a year. Both form dense screens and both can be cut pretty agressively and will recover if you don't cut for a year or two.
But there are loads of other options - Rosa rugoasa is untidy, but effective and gets covered in roses all summer. Escallonia looks nice, but grows sow and is tender. Osmanthus burkwoodii is a lovely shrub with dark green privet like leaves, and gets covered in the best smelling flowers in spring, but is a very slow grower. Prinus laureocalis is like a giant privet - big leaves, trims well. Not a fast grower tho.
And of course the old favorites of beech and hornbeam (better on wet clay soils) that keep the brown leaves on over the winter.
I've even seen some of the evergreen Euonymous used as hedging, and things like cotoneaster, berberis and pyracantha. The latter is a bit watsed since the berries which are the star attraction, only grow on second year growth, which regular trimming removes.
Even decidous stuff like lilacs can in time make a decent hedge.
If you want an instant priovacy screen, put up a fence :-)
If you want a natural hedge, plant one behind it :-)

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I've not had a problem with severe cuts back any time of year with L. Good idea to check that there are no birds nesting. Many species seem to like the density.
-- ________________________________________________________________
Peter Scott ________________________________________________________________
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wrote:

Privet is perhaps a bit boring but I saw some nice variegated privet the other day. Is that a good hedging plant? I guess it must be since so many people use it. I think I'm going to cut down my L hedge. Trouble is, I have no-where to have a bonfire.
Anyone got any clever suggestions for getting rid of about one ton of conifer cheaply? Does anyone pay money for such stuff - or at least, take it away F.O.C.?
Cheers,
Frank
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I think it isn't.
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On Mon, 18 Aug 2003 08:07:00 +0100, 666 snipped-for-privacy@hack.powernet[dot]co[dot]uk (Simon Gardner) wrote:

3rd reading but: "The Govenment remains committed to legislation to deal with cases that neighbours cannot resolve and will make every effort to get it onto the statute book. It is actively considering how this could be done."
See www.urban.odpm.gov.uk/greenspace/trees/index.htm
Chris Ward.
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snipped-for-privacy@ovtsbbg.pbz wrote:

It did indeed.

That's right. Classic New Labour. I am aware of this statement. And it worked exactly as it was intended to.
I think it isn't.
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