A Poem Lovely As A Tree

I think that I shall never see.

A poem lovely as a tree.


The first part of the wonderful poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer, praising the virtues of all trees. One must realize that Joyce Kilmer did not reside within a HOA and, therefore, probably did not deal with the issues that arise with certain trees. Some of these particular issues could be minor in nature, such as attracting annoying insects, more major issues could be the continuing or the long term maintenance consequences.


Trees do bring splendor and beauty to any landscape, however, trees serve many practical purposes as well. Properly placed trees can provide shade to a home and improve efficiency of home air conditioning systems during summer months. Trees can also improve a home’s heating efficiency during the winter months by breaking winter winds.


Rarely do HOA governing documents specifically restrict particular tree species. Governing documents will many times broadly restrict placement or location via the architectural review provisions, however, most governing documents do not specifically address this matter and leave the details up to the architectural review process.


Utilizing the architectural review process provided for in most governing documents is generally where boards of directors and architectural review committees establish the maintenance and planting guidelines. Establishing guidelines about the species of tree and where the species can and cannot be planted.


One element that is commonly not taken into consideration is the future growth of the tree as it reaches maturity. For example, planting a white oak which grows up to 50 to 80 feet in height and has an eventual circumference limb spread of 50 to 80 feet. Even considering a white oak can take over 40 years to grow to maturity, it still should not be planted ten feet from a home.


Another consideration is what is not visible, the tree’s root system. Certain tree root systems can extend 40 to 50 feet down, with an average tree system growing 10 to 20 feet down. Considering the possible damage to foundations and plumbing lines that can be caused by root systems, the wrong tree can result in thousands of dollars in future damages. Conversely, a shallow root system, such as that of certain large pine trees,   are generally more likely to topple during extreme weather situations than a deep rooted elm tree.


Generally speaking, the best tree species to plant around structures are those that have shallow roots systems and are less than 25 feet high at maturity. These trees are often referred to as ornamental or decorative trees. Keep these types of trees at least five to seven feet from sidewalks and foundations, because roots may eventually grow and cause damage. A rule of thumb is not to plant any tree closer than half the circumference at maturity to a structure. This should keep the foliage, as well as the root system, from the structure.


Ornamental trees typically fall into four categories, evergreens, deciduous, flower, and fruit.


Evergreens generally provide year-round benefits such as shade and color. Certain evergreen trees grow tall, however, have a small circumference spread. Popular evergreens are varieties of spruces, hollies, and cedars. Arborvitae or cypresses are also popular evergreen trees.

Deciduous means “falling off at maturity” and is typically used to refer to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally. This seasonally loss generally happens in the fall of each year. Common deciduous trees are varieties of chestnut, ash, and maples.


Flowering trees are sometimes confused as being large shrubs or plants. These types of trees can enhance or contrast other landscaping features. Popular flowering trees are dogwoods, smoketrees, magnolias, tulips, crepe myrtles, and maidenhair trees.


Fruit trees can be well suited for planting near structures, particularly dwarf varieties of pear, apple, plum, and cherry. Because of these trees’ fruit falling to the ground, and because some governing documents may limit fruit trees, these types of ornamental trees are generally not ideal for HOAs.


Six Trees to Avoid


– Silverleaf maple tree – a beautiful fast growing shade tree that grows in colder climates, as well as warmer climates such as Florida. Unfortunately, the silverleaf maple has a reputation for having weak limbs that can easily break during storms. The most problematic issue is the shallow root system. The silverleaf roots attack plumbing lines, and crack sidewalks and driveways.


– Black walnut – while great for furniture making and shade, black walnuts produce large amounts of pollen. And what can be most troubling is that the tree puts off toxins that kill nearby plants and flowers.


– Elm tree – a common and majestic tree with a very deep root system that breaks plumbing lines.


– Willow tree – the beautiful willow tree is very distinctive with its low drooping branches. The willow tree has an expansive root system that can wreack havoc on plumbing lines.


– Bradford pear tree – very common in many HOAs with its spring blossoms that have a strong aroma. Unfortunately, Bradford pear limbs are prone to break or split with as little as 30 mile an hour winds.


– Mulberry trees – Shallow root systems and they are a large producer of pollen. Another concern is that their berries will stain sidewalks and driveways.



William Douglas Management, providing excellent management services to HOAs and condominium associations since 1980.


Copyright 2018 William Douglas Management, Inc.


Copyright © 2022 William Douglas Management Company | All Right Reserved