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Plants Not to Plant by Your House

By John Peter
Informed plant choice planning around the house will save you money

Most landscape plants do just fine next to your home, but a few can cause a great deal of damage and should not be planted anywhere near your house. Be sure to plant any species far enough from the sides of the house to allow for general maintenance as the plant grows older and larger. Any plant brushing against wood siding makes painting difficult and can lead to deterioration of the wood.

Shade and Flowering Trees

A weeping willow is appropriately planted far from the house

A few trees are notorious for the damage they can cause. Weeping willow (Salix babylonica) roots can push foundations, enter basements and cause enumerable structural problems. Subterranean piping and electrical conduits are at risk. A full grown willow towering over 60 feet in the air sends roots to find water even under your house.

Also on the to-avoid list is the flowering pear, sometimes referred to as the Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana). The poor growth habit often leads to large parts of the tree falling onto cars, houses and landscape plantings and accessories.

Vines and Creeping Plants

Used for ornamental effect, English ivy needs constant management to prevent problems

The list of vining plants not to plant next to a home is long. There are vines that can literally envelope your home and pull the entire structure to the ground. The most famous is kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) which is known as the vine that ate the South and is now marching north toward Canada.

A popular ground cover that should never be planted next to a house let alone any where else in the garden is the equally pervasive English ivy (Hedera helix). Without constant management throughout the years, beautiful English ivy will reach up and pull down gutters as well as nearby tree limbs.

Beautiful and Troublesome Bushes

Know the effect on your house and neighbors before planting running bamboo.

Contending for the No. 1 worst species to plant next to your house is golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea). A non-native, exotic alien invasive species, golden bamboo devours landscapes, destroys septic fields pipes and tanks, and cracks up concrete and macadam driveways -- and that is just for starters. Running bamboos grow quickly and without limit through patios, retaining walls and into natural areas wherein they create biological deserts. While seemingly an excellent inexpensive choice for screening purposes, even when planted a distance away from the house it will come and get you.

Fire Safety

Avoid plants that promote the spread of fire.

In fire prone areas, the United States Fire Administration (USFA) strongly suggests choosing species that are somewhat fire resistant for planting near your home. Many evergreens such as junipers are highly flammable and should not be planted in landscapes where fire regimes exist. Ornamental grasses that go dormant leaving dry flammable leaves through parts of the year should also be avoided. Pines and cedars with their characteristic aromatic needles indicate flammability and should not be planted.


About the Author


John Peter's first article outside of numerous trade magazines was in a 2006 "American Law Institute | American Bar Association" course of study. Peter is a 4th generation nurseryman working in the industry from 1988 until 2008. He has written a book on national invasive species certification policy. Peter studied music composition and theory at the University of Maryland.