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
Should I cut them all down? Would privet cause less of a danger to the
house and drains?
Thanks for any advice.
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
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
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
live, on very light soil. I think that means they are no risk to drains.
dry the ground but being evergreen I guess will not cause subsidence. Anyone
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.
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?
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?
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).
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
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
It doesn't say what the issues are in the case of planting trees near an
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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 :-)
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
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.?
On Mon, 18 Aug 2003 08:07:00 +0100, 666 firstname.lastname@example.org[dot]co[dot]uk
(Simon Gardner) wrote:
Well, the private member's (Stephen Pound's) Bill certainly failed on
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
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