Hedges: Red cedar hedge root issues

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by williambi, Nov 6, 2008.

  1. williambi

    williambi Member

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    I have planted about 40 8-11 feet cedar trees in my backyard recently in order to block the very messy view of my neighbour’s backyard and gain some privacy. The space between each of them is 2.5 feet. The trees are 30-40 feet away from my house and about 2 feet away from my neighbour’s fence. I plan to trim these trees to a beautiful green hedge after they grow up to the same height at 11 or 12 feet. Now my neighbour starts his concern that the roots of these trees will expand very far underneath and go over to their backyard, where he plant vegetables. He said the roots will destroy our drain system and spread all over our houses. He also threatened me that he will cut the roots if they expand to their backyard.

    My questions are:
    1. Is it legal to plant these red cedar trees in my backyard as a hedge?
    2. How tall is the legal height for the cedar hedge? Is there any regulation on that?
    3. How far will the root expand at most after a few years? Will they cause a problem to our houses?
    4. If my neighbour cut the roots in their side, will these trees die?
    5. What should I do to respond him? Can I just ignore him?

    Thank you for your help.
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    If these are seedlings you have planted potential forest giants 2' apart and 2' from the fence. Even crowed together like that they will root and branch well beyond a 4' wide area, in fact at 8'-11'(!) tall at planting these surely would be expected to be already much more than 2' across. If you want the height on a narrow, closely sheared hedge quite an annual chore has now been made necessary. There will probably not be enough room to set up the ladders etc. between the fence and the hedge, so now you will be forced to ask for equipment and debris to be (temporarily) permitted on the neighbor's side. It sounds like bad feeling is already present due to the installation of the hedge, likely making a need for the maintenance of half of it requiring access to and use of his property pretty awkward.

    Legal aspects would be covered by municipal or provincial ordinances, or neighborhood covenants. Where, exactly the property line is may also need to be determined. One of the parties behind me has taken to reaching over the fence on our property and cutting my shrubs to suit them. This continues despite my pointing out the property line marker and telling them to stop reaching over and cutting off growth well on my side. So, I may have to have the property re-surveyed, check local laws, maybe even get an attorney to send them a letter. You cannot count on your neighbor seeing it your way, or even respecting property lines at all.

    Here I have had them reach across and cut off some black bamboo at fence height, throw the debris on my side. When I made it clear I was aware of this and objected to it the justification given was that the bamboo was dropping spent leaves on their bark mulch. Likewise your neighbor will doubtless continue to be highly protective of their veg patch. If this is right next to the fence your hedge will be seen only as a looming threat.
     
  3. williambi

    williambi Member

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    Thanks a lot! Ron.

    It sounds like a lot of troubles following up. I wonder if I can ask my gardener to trim the tree more frequently to avoid this happens. I don't want to talk to my neighbour again as long as I keep his side clean. If he wants to do anything in my side, I will ask my lawyer to deal with it.

    My neighour said the root will extend all over my backyard (90'*25'). Is that true?
     
  4. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Consider installing root barrier or remove and replant with more appropriate species, western red cedar is NOT an apropriate hedge material for most residential applications. It grows too big and fast and takes too much work to try to keep it 'small'. Consider Thuja occ. 'Smaragd'.
     
  5. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Ditto on Ron B's reply.

    Also, if your neighbor reacted like you say - it sounds like he needs to chill out a little bit.

    He probably will have to cut some roots if you don't install root barrier across the back behind.

    Not sure if you care to or not. If my neighbors planted a hedge, I would not expect them to, but it could be handy.

    The scare about roots and drains probably would be just fear, unless it's a perforated drain line within about 4 to 6 feet of the hedge. What kind of drain is it?
     
  6. growing4it

    growing4it Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi williambi

    The different varieties of any plant - including red cedars, have different characteristics. Smarags cedars are commonly available for hedging, so check with the supplier on the variety of cedar. Cedar hedges do have fibrous root systems that will - like any other plant - will spread but I think that your neighbour is overstating the invasiveness of cedar hedges. But I encourage you to keep talking to your neighbour! even if he's being unpleasant. If you two aren't talking he may do something drastic and inflamatory. Convince him that the hedge will be beneficial to him as well. Isn't he concerned about privacy?
     
  7. 1950Greg

    1950Greg Active Member

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    Just a couple of thing to keep in mind about cedars. Cedars require a lot of water and would most likley seek this out in your nieghbour's vegetable garden. When your nieghbour cuts the roots on his property this will loosen the hold your hedge has and could very likely blow over in a strong wind. Cedars in general are not fairing to well with our warming weather patterns and I suppose In the Victoria area this would be compounded. Cedar hedges sem like a quick fix but are high maintenance. Yew hedges are slower growing and make ideal hedges.
     
  8. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    The location of the veggie garden in the back yard hasnt been identified, the statement about the tree roots 'seeking' out the garden is unsubstantiated.

    Any tree will fail given sufficient wind, constant annual root pruning (acceptable) will result in a different shaped root system than in a tree that has had no root pruning (acceptable) or been left to grow for a number of years then get root pruned (bad idea). This can be a manageable method of control. Thuja plicata will certainly grow woody roots, Thuja occidentalis (Smaragd, Pyramidalis etc) species have a much more fibrous root system and it would be unlikely their roots would interfere with infrastructure (as M D Vaden mentioned).

    They also (most varieties) have contain poisonous compounds in most of their parts, be wary if you choose to replant with Taxus.
     
  9. williambi

    williambi Member

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    Very much appreciated! All of you!

    My neighbour's veg. field and warm house is just next to the backyard border. The gardener who planted the cedar trees will trim the hedge twice a year. He left a 2-feet long space between the trees and the fence so that he can go through the fence to trim the hedge in my side. A forester told me that I should not worry about too much because if I control the height of the trees, they will not have energy to grow longer roots and branches. I also heard that the root will only extend to the same range as the branches. So, if I trim the branches quite well, the roots will not spread too much. Is it true? I hope so.

    I don’t know how the drain system was constructed. Does it usually surround the house or go through the house underneath. I can see a few concrete covers lined up in my backyard and front yard. It is about 6-8 feet away from the trees. I don’t know if it goes through my backyard to my neighbour’s. If it does, the hedge will be on the top of it. But my gardener didn’t dig any tunnel when he planted the trees. So, it should be fine.

    Thanks again, folks. You guys are so nice. I found this forum is very helpful.
     
  10. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Roots of trees usually extend well beyond the reach of their branches, even when the tops are not pruned.
     
  11. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    as an example, a drawing from the morton arboretum of an excavated tree's root system.
     

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