8 Reasons To Cut Down The Tree In Front Of Your House

An arborist cutting down a maple tree piece by piece

While it is nice to have a scenic view of trees while looking out your window, it can also be a bother and even a hazard to have those trees perched in your front yard overlooking your home. 

In general, you should cut down the tree in the front of your house when:

  1. Removing the tree leads to a healthier lawn
  2. The tree is too close to your home (within 15ft)
  3. You want to minimize storm damage
  4. The tree requires too much upkeep
  5. You want to limit the insect infestations inside the tree

Many times, front yard trees hold some sort of sentiment for homeowners but sometimes, just need to be removed from the front of your house. Read on to learn all the reasons you may have to cut down your front yard tree!

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1. Removing Trees From The Front Of Your House Can Make A Healthier Lawn

Close up of chain saw cutting down big old birch tree

There are many benefits to cutting trees down (in small amounts, like the one in the front of your house).

If trees are close together, sometimes they do not have enough room for all of their roots underground. Then, their roots get tangled underneath the soil and the dominant tree usually wins the battle. The other tree ends up needing to be cut down anyway.

If you notice your trees are doing this and you cut down the weaker one right away, you are saving yourself a hassle later. It also creates a healthier environment for the other tree to grow and thrive in without fighting for resources under the dirt.

If you are looking for a chainsaw for the job, the EGO Power+ CS1604 16-Inch 56-Volt Lithium-ion Cordless Chainsaw is a fantastic option! It is water resistant and can cut through trees up to 16 inches in diameter.

2. The Tree In The Front Of Your House Is Too Close To Your Home

If a tree is close to your home, it probably is not very safe. If a limb or the entire tree were to fall during a storm, it could damage your house and cost you thousands of dollars to replace. 

If it is next to a utility line, it is also a risk. Again, in the scenario of a storm, the tree could knock out the power line and cut the power to all the houses on your street. Always be careful when cutting down any tree, especially those next to utility lines.

A tree might cut off your line of sight to the road if it is next to your driveway. If you are in your car and at the end of your driveway and the tree is all you can see, it is a safety risk. If it is blocking your line of sight to oncoming traffic, it is also blocking the traffic’s line of sight to you.

You might also notice a dangerous structural defect on a tree. This can be several things, like a limb hanging off of it suspended by another limb, a large crack in the tree’s foundation, or even an unstable base.

If you notice anything that looks like it might be a problem with the integrity of your tree, you might want to cut it down.

3. The Tree In Your Front Yard Isn’t Growing Properly

Penn State gives a great tip here and says that trees need the right environment to grow, just like all other living things, including plants, animals, and even us as humans. If they are not in the right environment, they will not thrive no matter what you do to help them.

Trees need proper soil to drain, so places with sandy or thick clay soil might not be the best place to plant most trees. Unless, of course, the tree is meant for those conditions. 

Trees need space. As I stated above, trees will entangle their roots and fight over the shared space to get the nutrients and sustenance they need to survive. This can also be an issue if a tree just does not have enough room to grow, like a houseplant that needs a bigger pot.  

Also, the climate has to be right. You cannot go get a palm tree and plant in the arctic and expect it to grow in the front of your house. You need to research the tree to understand what it needs to thrive and make sure you have those things. If you do not, it might be time to cut it down.

Ultimately, this all leads to the tree in your front yard needing to possibly be cut down. If it’s an older tree, you’ll notice thinning leaves or needles starting to appear on a few branches, with more appearing over time.

If you do want to instead, save the tree in your front yard, take a look at our article which discusses the most common front yard tree: How to Fertilize Your Oak Tree (7 Simple Tips)

4. Your Front Yard Tree Requires Too Much Upkeep

While a tree is young, it needs a lot of upkeep. Depending on the tree, it will require varying levels of care. Some trees need constant pruning while they are growing, while others need to be kept safe from animals, like rabbits.

A younger tree might not survive in colder temps like it would when it is older, so you might have to cover it and keep it warm if it is cold. On the flip side, make sure it is getting enough water if it’s too hot.

Young trees, especially saplings, need a lot more attention than people give them credit for. Not only do the saplings require a lot of work, but the surrounding area also needs tending to. Be careful when weed whipping or mowing grass.

Now, you’re probably thinking “do I need to cut down a young tree?”

Well, the answer really is no. If the tree was just planted within the six months you can transplant it as the roots haven’t spread too much. After that, you should contact a friend or professional with gardening experience to transplant the tree as the roots will have grown quite a bit and spread.

After a few years, you’ll want a professional to transplant a tree.

5. Your Front Yard Tree Keeps Getting Insect Infestations

Bugs love trees, they often make them their homes. While this does not seem bad, these bugs also include things like termites, hornets, you name it. Not only are these bugs annoying, but they also have the potential to cause harm to your home and front of house, too!

With bugs come animals or other bugs looking to make the previous bugs a meal. If you have a bug problem, you might find yourself with a bird problem, and then a small rodent problem—the list goes on and on.

If you notice any signs of a bug infestation in your front yard OR back yard trees, you want to get them cut down. Although, if you cut them down before there is an infestation, you have nothing to worry about. (This reason is also closely related to trees very near your home).

To learn more about the creatures potentially living in the trees in the front of your house, check out our article: 9 Different Animals And Insects That Live In Trees.

6. You Want To Minimize Storm Damage Your Tree Can Cause

Fallen tree on the roof after big storm

I know I already touched on trees being too close to your home and how if a storm were to come through, it could damage your home. However, a tree in a storm can damage a lot more than just your home. 

There are those tacky commercials where an entire tree falls straight onto a brand new car, crushing it in a second. While those commercials can be kind of silly, they are not wrong.

A fallen tree in the front of your house can ruin your:

  • Roof
  • Car
  • Driveway
  • Siding
  • Entire home
  • Electricity (power lines)
  • Lawn

So, it may be best to cut the tree if it’s too close to your home. Each tree should have a branch no closer that AT LEAST 15ft from your home. I would recommend keeping it further out, but that should be your bare minimum.

If you don’t want to cut down the entire tree in the front of your house, then trim some of the at risk branches back as much as possible.

7. The Cost Of Keeping The Tree In Your Front Yard Outweighs The Benefit

This reason makes me think of fruit trees. Many people will do whatever it takes to save a fruit tree in their front yard because of their ability to bear food and the aesthetic they give.

So if you have bugs or animals nibbling on said tree, it might be more cost-effective to cut it down and start again. Repairing the damage done to the tree so far can be very costly per season depending on what equipment and pesticides you use.

With this tip, you can also take what you learned if a tree didn’t grow correctly or you had pests to deal with and use it to ensure your next tree turns out much better.

If you’re wondering if you should plant a tree in near your home at all, take a look at our helpful guide for the most common yard tree called: Should You Plant An Oak Tree in Your Backyard? Pros & Cons

8. Cutting Trees In The Front Of Your House Provides Useful Wood

I think this reason is probably one of the most self-explanatory of all the reasons. By cutting down a tree, you have wood you can now use. There are a ton of different things you can do with the wood from the tree you cut.

For starters, you can use it for a fire or a wood stove. You could use it if you do woodworking, or you could even sell it!

Many people will pay to have some firewood already pre-cut for them or even just a fallen tree for them to cut up themselves to take home. Some people even use fallen trees to make mulch for gardens.

If you have a fallen oak tree, check out 9 Best Fallen Oak Tree Uses (And What To Do With Them) for more ideas on how to use it!

What To Do When You Cut Down The Tree In Front Of Your House

Pine tree in forest marked with red x to be cut down.

When you finally decide it is time to cut down the tree, there are a lot of steps you need to take before you go out there in your plaid shirt and suspenders wielding an ax like a lumberjack.

The USDA has a great quote, “If you cannot prune your tree with both feet on the ground, call an arborist”. This applies to when you are cutting down the tree as well. 

If you’ll be cutting down a tree in the front of your house, it’s most likely an adult tree. Even so, you should contact a local arborist to cut down your tree unless you have extensive knowledge doing so!

When You Should NOT Cut Down A Tree In Front Of Your House

I know this article is about cutting down the tree in your front yard. This insert of the article might seem a little silly, but it is really important to know when you can and cannot cut down a tree in your front yard.

You might think, “but… it’s my yard?” and you would be correct. However, depending on where you live or what kind of tree it is, you might need permission to cut it down or to remove it from your property from your local city hall or town depending on where the tree is.

Local Ordinance Does Not Allow You To Cut Down The Tree

If you had to ensure the definition of a local ordinance, it is essentially a law in an area of land that’s smaller than a state. So, if there is a local ordinance in place where you live to not cut down trees, you just simply cannot cut them down.

There are a few different reasons you might not be able to cut down trees because of these ordinances. Sometimes, if the tree is on a historic property, they will protect the tree to preserve the property for as long as they can.

Or, you might have an endangered or protected specimen of tree on your property. You cannot cut these either, but if you are unsure if a tree is protected, call your local government to ask. Many times you can also look it up with a simple search on your town or county website.

So, make sure to contact your local town officials office and see if there are any quick ordinances for the type of tree you’ll be cutting down as well as any rules they may have for cutting the tree down in your front yard!

The Tree Is Along A Stream Of Water

You cannot cut down a tree if it is anywhere close to a stream of running water. There are a couple of reasons, but the biggest is it can cause some serious soil erosion and do much more harm than good.

Also, it can harm the habitat for animals in the stream or make the stream unpassable to people using it for recreation. Although you may own the property the tree is on, you do not own the water. Cutting trees down is dangerous, and near bodies of water makes it even more dangerous. 

This one might sound odd because this article is about trees in the front of your house, but this might apply to some who live near a river or lake. 

Your Front Of House Tree Is Protected By An Easement

If your property has space with an easement, you need to know where that easement is. An easement is essentially land that is not yours that you can use, and you have to ensure that you upkeep it.

If you are looking to get rid of a tree in your yard, ensure it is not under an easement before doing so. If it is under an easement, it will typically be held under your neighbors name. Reach out to them and discuss whether or not you both think cutting the down the tree in the front of your house in a good idea!

Your Homeowner’s Association Does Not Allow For Non-Needed Tree Removal

The good old HOA can put a foot down and say you cannot chop the tree sitting in your front yard.

If you are a part of an HOA, I would recommend looking at your community rules and then ensuring with another member of the HOA to make sure it is not an issue before you cut.

If the existing documentation they have isn’t clear, reach out to a local HOA official and ask!

Things To Look Out For When Cutting Down The Tree In Front Of Your House

When deciding if a tree needs to be cut down, there are a few different things to look for. 

First things first, if you are planning on digging up the stump, you need to make sure there are no underground power lines near you. You can do this by calling your electric company to come out and mark the lines for you.

When looking at a tree’s overall safety, inspect their limbs to see if they are broken off or looking limp. You can check for cracks or cavities in the tree, which can house fungi or animals.

You should also check on the trunk to see if the roots are popping out of the ground dramatically or if the trunk looks weak. This would indicate that the tree should be cut sooner than later.

Finally, you can check to see if there is any new lean in the tree as would indicate that you should cut down that tree in the front of your house!

When looking at the tree’s overall health, note the size of the tree, the color of its leaves and bark, and if the leaves grow all over the tree or in patches. If any of these look lacking or out of the norm, this could mean your tree is on its way out.

Also, compare the trunk and base of the tree to what a healthy tree looks like. You can do this simply by searching online for a healthy version of the tree you are dealing with and comparing them from there.

In Closing

Many people do not know what they are getting into when they plant a tree in their yard and, honestly, few do the research needed. If you have little information about a tree, try to avoid planting it until you know enough to avoid cutting it down in the future.

If you face the decision to cut down a tree, use these tips to see if it will benefit you and call your local arborist to help. Happy front of house tree cutting!

References

McKeever, D.  Skog, K.  (2003).  Urban tree and woody yard residues: another wood resource.  United States Department of Agriculture.  2-4.

McPherson, E. Gregory; Simpson, James R.; Peper, Paula J.; Gardner, Shelley L.; Vargas, Kelaine E.; Xiao, Qingfu. (2007.) Northeast community tree guide: benefits, costs, and strategic planting. Gen. Tech. Rep Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station; 106.

Sommer, B & R. (1989). The factor structure of street tree attributes. Journal of Aboriculture. 15 (10). 243-246.

Tenley M. Conway. (2016). Tending their urban forest: Residents’ motivations for tree planting and removal. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening.Volume 17,,Pages 23-32, ISSN 1618-8667.

Qunshan Zhao, David J. Sailor, Elizabeth A. Wentz (2018). Impact of tree locations and arrangements on outdoor microclimates and human thermal comfort in an urban residential environment. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. Volume 32,Pages 81-91,ISSN 1618-8667.

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