Q. How do I plan a house around an existing tree?


I am a Philadelphia resident and architect with a small piece of property in Asbury Park, NJ. I am designing a house for the lot. There is an existing sweet gum tree and I would like to design the house around it so I can keep the tree. Because the lot is so small, the exterior walls of the house would be about 7-10' from the trunk. I am hoping I can carefully select/plan the foundations so as not to damage the roots. Is this possible? What else do I need to take into account? Thank you!


Building a house around existing trees on the propety can be done with little or no damage to the trees. Generally tree roots are in the top 8 inches of the  soil and extend out to the edge of the canope. Little or no damage will be done if the ground is disturbed beyond the canope. Heavy machinery should not be moved over the root area. The compaction will do a great deal of damage.


  • Last Updated Jan 08, 2019
  • Views 31
  • Answered By Aska Gardener

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