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Everything You Need to Know About Installing a Pool in a Yard Full of Trees

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Finally installing the pool you've always wanted at your Charlotte, NC property? Although you may have to remove some trees to make room for your new pool, you may be wondering if you can leave trees around the perimeter or otherwise close by.

Trees provide beauty, privacy, shade, and many other benefits. It's no wonder you don't want to get rid of every tree in your yard!

But how close can a tree be to your pool? And which ones could cause trouble for your pool down the line?

This week, we're diving into what you should consider when it comes to trees and pools!

everything you need to know about installing a pool in a yard full of trees

Tree debris could ruin your summer fun

One thing to consider when it comes to deciding whether you want to keep or plant trees near your pool is tree debris. Does the tree produce fruit? Your pool fun could sour if you're constantly cleaning fruit and/or nuts out of your pool.

But if the tree near your pool just drops foliage, that may not be so bad. You'll probably be closing up your pool when foliage starts to drop in the fall anyway.

If you're looking for trees to plant near your pool that won't have you on pool cleanup duty every day, fine-leaf evergreens, like juniper, chamaecyparis, and arborvitae trees, could be good options. They typically drop their old interior needles every three years or so in the late summer or early fall.

if you want to plant a tree near a pool, arborvitaes are a great option

Beware of trimming too much of your tree at once

Maybe you know your tree would drop a lot of debris, but you want to keep it anyway. Is trimming the tree way back a good compromise?

There are issues with trimming a tree too much. Removing too much of your tree's foliage and woody tissue at one go takes away the tree's ability to make food via photosynthesis and lowers its food reserves. Plus, a tree's natural response to that much foliage and woody tissue loss is to grow more.

Also, when a tree has to focus on regrowing foliage, less of its food energy is available for things like defense chemical production. That makes the tree more susceptible to bugs and disease.

The amount of live foliage that can be removed at one time depends on a lot of factors, but a good starting point is no more than 25% in a single season.

Trees actually have the ability to regulate and optimize their root to shoot ratio in a given setting over time. So, if you have to cut a tree's roots to make room for an underground pool, the canopy may just adjust on its own if the root loss isn't too extreme.

Can tree roots damage your pool?

It's a possibility. Trees have five types of roots. Some of those roots (tap, fine, and oblique roots) won't be a problem for your pool as long as it's placed at the proper distance from your tree.

But other types of roots (lateral and sinker roots) may cause intrusion issues over time as the tree ages.

Will cutting tree roots to install a pool kill your tree?

Not necessarily. If it's necessary to cut roots to install your pool, a good starting point is to keep critical root zone loss to 25% or less and keep trenching at least 5 trunk diameters away to preserve the tree's structural root plate (the roots that keep a tree upright).

If that loss has to be more than 25%, pre-loss and post-loss tree health treatments can help protect your tree.

An ISA-certified arborist with construction management experience can help you determine what's best for your specific situation.

How far should your pool be from the trunk of the nearest tree?

As you do your research, you may find some sources say you should install your pool at least 15 feet away from your tree's trunk. Others will say as long as the pool is outside of the perimeter of the tree's crown, you're good. The truth is, it depends on the tree.

Aiming to keep your pool outside of your tree's crown may be overkill if all you're worried about is root issues. Instead, what you need to consider is how big your tree is or could get.

The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has done some research on the amount of space shade trees need. Although this research is focused on above ground structures like sidewalks, roads, and driveways, the findings can be applied to any permanent structure, including pools. 

They've developed a planting space recommendation table that you can check out here:

How Much Space Does My Shade Tree Need? Planting Space Recommendations for Medium and Large Trees in Florida Cities

For example, if there's a red maple in your yard that you want to keep that's expected to reach its max genetic potential, you should place your pool 8 feet away. If it will only reach 25% of its max genetic potential, then the edge of your pool can be 5 feet away.

Chlorinated water isn't good for trees

You should also think about how chlorinated water could affect your tree because too much chlorine is toxic to a tree.

The chlorine can accumulate in leaf tissue as chloride and make leaves look scorched or burned. The leaves could also eventually be smaller than usual, turn yellow, and drop earlier than the leaves of other trees.

So, keep chlorinated water out of your trees' root zones.

Chlorinated water is toxic to trees, so keep it out of their root zones

Thinking about pruning your trees to accommodate a pool? Interested in pre-root loss health treatments for your tree? Request a consultation with us now!

Like what you just read?

Then you'll love this: Buying a House? 3 Reasons Why You NEED an ISA-Certified Arborist to Inspect the Trees

Photo credits:

Arborvitae photo: Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental,

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