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We have a bay tree very close to the front of our house (about 6" from bottom of front wall) It has been allowed to grow to about 7' and the diameter of the main stem/trunk is 2-3". Will the roots be causing damage to brickwork/drains? Will a brutal pruning reduce root growth, or should we remove the tree entirely? I really enjoy the tree aesthetically (and for cooking!) but do not want it to damage our house


When we were in Australia recently we noticed every house had at least one tree, for shade.  The trees were planted really close to the houses.

Why don't the Australians worry so much about it?

In British-speak the bay is too close.  Remove now or if you want to re-plant it, in the autumn.  Pruning will not restrict it sufficiently.


Not really a tree. Should be ok




I think that in Britain we get really anxious (and with good reason) because on clay soils large trees can take up a lot of water and cause contraction of the soil around the foundations leading to subsidence.  It's not quite such a problem on other types of soil as far as I'm aware.  

In this case, whether the roots will cause damage to the drains, it depends a lot on where the drains are in relation to the tree?  Have you had the drains checked?

Bays can grow up to 20ft or more - whether it will damage the foundations depends a lot on the age of your house and how it was built.  


Thank you for the replies

It is virtually on top of our main drain (leading to the communal drain/sewer in the main road). As for the foundations, I have little info on how it is/will be affecting them. However, we are on clay/loam here so contraction may be an issue in the future.

Your responses have sealed it's fate I think...



Bays can majke big trees but you don't need to let them, If you prune the top back to where you want it the root is unlikely to take over the world.


What a pity Oliver- I think it's also a future issue if you sell your house - potential buyers may be worried about it unfortunately 

That's the main issue Fairygirl, we're not planning to be here for much longer.

I am loathe to kill a tree that provides shade and privacy to our porch, but I have a much more laid back attitude than potential buyers!

nutcutlet, your attitude echoes mine, but my wife is slightly more dramatic when it comes to roots causing damage to the house!


Fidgetbones, have you ever seen a full grown bay tree?  The clue is in the name.  If left unchecked they do grow large.

Certainly if it is anywhere near drains it should be removed.  Sadly.


Yes, welsh onion, but most people aren't daft enough to let it grow large if it's next to the house. Bays can easily be kept under control with a bit of judicial clipping.


Oliver if you're planning on moving I'd keep the tree and enjoy it until you're ready for the estate agent then take it out- maybe stick something there in a pot if it all looks a bit bare. At least you can take that with you when you move!  

I think, on balance, that it's going to have to go at some point. But maybe the time isn't... quite... yet! I hate chopping down trees

Thanks for the input everyone

I don't know if you still have the Bay Tree as the last post was months ago,but why don't you take some cuttings to take with you when you move, and plant them in pots. Keep two (giving the rest away as presents) until you have one grown big enough for your own needs,and then keep one and give one away.

flowering rose

my bay is near our back wall and has been there for years by being  kept clipped and we have had no trouble (touch wood).



i had a large bay in my garden, very close to the house. it was a lovely shape and i tried to keep it in check, but over several years it got way beyond me being able to do this- 30ft +.

In the end i had it cut down, and now regret it, I would if given the choice, try and keep it in check, but be aware it's something you'd need to keep on top of.

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