QUESTION: Hi, Jim: I live in North Georgia. My 3 story tall yoshino cherry is only five feet away from my house. Do you think it might affect my house foundation sooner or later? Besides, it sheds yellow leaves as early as September, make a big mess all over the lawn. I am considering getting rid of it, or at least trim it heavily if you think it OK. Thank you in advance for any advice you think viable.
ANSWER: This tree is entirely too large to have 5 feet from the house. It has a spread width of 25-49 feet when mature. Which means the limbs will spread out from the trunk 10-20 feet and will be rubbing the house soon if not now. The roots normally spread about 1 1/2 time the width of the foliage but the wall of the basement will stop the growth that way. normally cherry tree do not have a problem with roots and foundation so I would not think that will be a problem. But saying all this it has grown there fro some time. The only problem would be the limbs rubbing the house. I would prune the branches on the house side so they will not hit the house. Prune them in the winter after all the hardwood trees have dropped their leaves. Yes hardwood tree do drop leaves but they also have flowers in the spring and fall color in the Fall. It is not going to harm your foundation so keeping it or not is just a matter of taste. I would keep it.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you, Jim. Now I decide to keep it. But will it be severely damaged or even die if I prune it HEAVILY in winter? Large amount of yellow leaves it drops are spread even onto the neighbors' lawns, which has been my concern.
I appreciate your informative and useful advice.
Hope you had a great weekend
DO NOT TOP YOUR TREE OR MAKE REPEATED HEADING CUTS
Besides killing the tree, topping or cutting branch tips doesn't even work to keep it small. Ironically, it has the opposite effect: it causes rapid and unruly regrowth which is not only ugly, but significantly weaker than the original limbs
"The pruning of nearly all ornamental Prunus is best kept to an absolute minimum. Where formative pruning is necessary, it should be done as early as possible, aiming to create well-formed trees that will need little further attention in later life. Keeping pruning wounds small, and pruning in midsummer reduces the risk of diseases such as silver-leaf. In common with the stone fruits, ornamental Prunus are sometimes affected by gummosis"
--Brickell/Joyce, PRUNING & TRAINING (1996, Dorling Kindersley, London)
About Japanese flowering cherries specifically the same reference says
"In general, do not prune unless absolutely essential. If removing dead wood or crossing or rubbing branches, the tree's natural habit, whether fastigiate, spreading, or weeping, should be enhanced and not compromised by pruning operations. All pruning must be undertaken early in the tree's life"
"On established trees, prune only to remove any dead, diseased, and damaged wood, and also any suckers that appear below graft unions, pruning in summer. Drastic pruning to renovate a tree is seldom successful" [emphasis mine]
I hope this helps.