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Gumbo P

Tree removal and heave advice



Looking for advice on felling a silver birch in my garden and the possibility of ground heave. 

The tree is 35 Years old and is 7 meters from my house (Victorian), on a mild downward slopping gradient away from the house and the soil is clay (South East England).  Most of the garden is concreted and the tree is located on the boundary with the drive-way for another property and beyond that is another house (also Victorian) which is also about 7 meters from the tree.

The tree has been pruned every 2-3 years over the last 20 years.  Also, my house was underpinned 20 years ago but at that time the insurers raised no concerns with the silver birch as being a cause of subsidence.  The tree is also about 2 meters away from a sewer pipe running under my garden serving several houses.

Currently the tree is outgrowing is restricted location in terms of proximity to boundary walls and damaging driveways.  My builder thinks I should simply remove it but I am concerned about the possibility of ground heave, although I understand silver birches are classified as having a low water demand.

Grateful for any thoughts or should I seek the advice of a tree surveyor?

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Hi Monkeybusiness,


The answer is no. The subsidence I had 20 years ago, and the only claim made, was not considered by the insurers to be tree related.  Did forget to mention that my house is an end of terrace and the rear wall and flank wall facing the garden were both underpinned.  At the time of the subsidence claim soil tests revealed that the soil in the garden had sufficient moisture but inside the house was very dry and had shrunk.  One or two fine cracks have appeared since on the garden facing flank wall but nothing of concern. 





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If it were my house I’d happily fell it - the house is old, the tree is (relatively) young, if soil expansion/contraction was going to be an issue you would have already experienced subsidence.


However, I’ll be shot down for suggesting that as it will be doing a consultant out of some work.


Pay an arboriculturalist to undertake a survey and give you recommendations. (They will tell you that you can fell it, sorry to spoil any surprises). 

If your house subsequently experiences heave following felling your insurers will do one of two things - 

1 - If you’ve not had a survey they will pay to fix your house. 
2 - If you’ve had a survey and you have followed the advice they will pay to fix your house (but might subsequently chase the surveyor for damages).

Take your choice, spend your money as you see fit.


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Hi Dan Maynard,
The tree is currently approx 12 meters tall.  Its height is reduced every 2-3 years when it is pruned.
Sorry lost this post. To be honest I'd be with Monkeybusiness, I've seen a lot of bigger trees closer to houses than 7m. The underpinning is also greatly in your favour as that will be nice and deep and was done when the tree was young.

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