Where to put a tree?

jeanerz13(6a)August 14, 2014

I hate my HOA. I lived here for 6 years, and out of nowhere they decide I need another tree in my front yard because it's one of their arbitrary rules to have 2 in the front yard (there was only one when I moved in). I responded that there was nowhere to put one without it looking stupid. They said they would recheck and if it was really a problem, they would notify me. I heard nothing for 2 years, and now I get a letter saying I need another tree by the end of the month. I told them I assumed the issue was closed since I never received any notification after my first email. But I figure I should get an opinion on where to shove a tree if they still insist.

I'm of the opinion that having a tree plopped right in front of the middle of a house looks stupid. There really isn't any room on the right side as there is already a tree there and it would get crowded (or I'd go over my property line). There isn't much room on the left side without running into the property line and/or crowding with the neighbor's tree. I can't just go on the side of the house because that's not "the front yard".

I'm including 3 pictures.

Aerial view with property lines (found it on a city website):

Front view (sorry about the shadows... picture taken at 5pm -- mostly just wanted to give an idea of the amount of lawn I'm working with)

Front view with lines drawn in roughly where property lines are...not exact

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Looking at it again, that tree on the left is farther back than I thought it was, so maybe a tree could go on the left of the driveway, but it would still be a tight fit... and I'm worried that once it matured the branches would hang over into the driveway and become a nuisance... I took another picture just to get the space between my house and the neighbor's on the left... I think the only place for it would be *maybe* straight back behind that electric post thing. Also -- there's probably lines running right through the middle of that section of the yard anyway so I can't dig...

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 6:55PM
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My vote goes to placing at the left side of the lot ... as near to the property line as you can. You will need to trim off some of the neighbor's tree's overhanging limbs in order to keep the new tree from leaning toward the light. It must have good light above it. Pick a tree that does not get too large. Trim limbs off that overhang the drive as the tree grows and it will not become a major undertaking.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 9:01PM
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Be careful about putting a tree on the left side...the utilities are an issue there. Your HOA should be considerate of that! The right side is not really needing a tree but if I "had" to put a tree in I'd put it next to the existing one. What kind of tree is that anyway? Nice property, the back is to die for!!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 10:17PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Plant something quite small-growing and you won't have to worry about size vs. space issues or do any pruning that deforms it.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 10:22PM
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Yeah it's a nice back yard but there's not much of a front yard (hence the problem). The left is the only place I can see another tree looking somewhat ok but I don't think there's room and like sas said, I probably couldn't because of cable lines. Maybe if they really push it, I'll put in one of those 2 ft pine trees just to the right of the driveway...

Do you guys agree it would look stupid with a tree plopped in the middle of the front yard? I thought trees should frame the house, not block it.

By the way, my tree on the right is a pin oak.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 12:49AM
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Does not appear to be enough land for a second tree.
Having been involved with numerous aspects of HOA's I know that the 'rules' are copied and passed from developer to developer with a nod and some changes from their lawyers. This is how many items not applicable to a community cause problems. A savvy Board recognizes this and approaches its duties using common sense.

Why not try a letter of protest claiming that you thought the matter was settled when there was a two year delay of notification. Dig in and read all those rules carefully. You may have some rights. Many HOA's set up Boards of Appeal. Did yours? If so, use it.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 9:55PM
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I did write an email to them as soon as I got the letter. I even sent the email in reply to the last email they sent me 2 years ago (yeah, I don't really delete emails) Anyway, I haven't heard back so I plan to call tomorrow. I also had the utilities marked so I'm hoping I can get someone out here to allow me to make my case. I guess I was looking for verification that I wasn't just being unreasonable and also a plan B in case I can't convince them.

My realtor helped me find the full HOA covenants on the county recorder of deeds website last night so I'll look for something about appeals.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 1:04AM
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So I've had the utilities marked. I think the left side of the driveway is gonna be out of the question:

And most of the main front yard too:

Note that in the 2nd picture the water line runs from the blue circle straight up to the house just to the right of the door... Guess the city didn't care about marking anything beyond the meter.

I figure the HOA people are going to expect me to put something in that little corner where the driveway meets the walkway to the door... I fully expect it to look stupid. I feel like anything in front of the middle of the house is going to be visually jarring.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 9:03PM
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You have some good reason to appeal with your utility markings and effort. Good for you...just keep fighting jeanerz13, and if you must plant a tree, find a really slow growing smaller tree and get bareroot from your nursery. A fruit tree would be my preference, but that's cuz I love fruit. Good luck with your appeal.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 10:35PM
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So, I talked to someone with the HOA management company. They said they'd have someone call me back to schedule a time to come out and look at it with me. I've still heard nothing. I'm getting a bit nervous since there's only one more week until the deadline they set out in the letter. Though maybe that deadline was just for contacting them, not for actually having the tree?

I did notice in the HOA covenants that if there was a problem, it said a letter would be sent out and it would include information about when you could appear before the board to argue the violation. My letter did no such thing. All it did was list an email and phone number for "questions regarding this matter".

I also had my landscaper out (for other reasons) and when I explained why I had the markings on the lawn, he thought the best place for a tree would be to the left of the garage... Apparently he thought it would be better to work around the lines than to put one in that small section with no lines. I agree that that is the only place it would look ok, but it just makes me nervous. If the lines ever need to be worked on, they would probably end up killing my tree.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 3:16PM
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gregbradley(Upland, CA USDA 9b Sunset 19)

I spent 8 years as president of one HOA and regularly help a friend who is on the board of a local very high end HOA.

It sounds to me like they are incompetent or lazy and just letting the management company work with some very rigid rules. Decisions like this should be done by the Architectural Committee of the Board of Directors with careful consideration of the NEED to enforce a specific rule in a specific situation.

Many HOA boards have problems getting competent people. From your documentation on this forum, I would suggest it might be time to volunteer for a board position. Somebody needs to do it!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 4:08PM
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"If the lines ever need to be worked on, they would probably end up killing my tree." I think you are overly concerned about this. Most of the time, tree roots don't do much to underground lines. The mix and mingle but lines don't usually break. If there is problem, then many times old lines are abandoned and new lines run in a different location. Partially, it depends on what the lines are. Sewer would be the one most likely to be concerned about. If a huge concern, you could install a root shield between the tree and the lines. It would only discourage the nearby heavy roots from growing toward the line, but those are the ones that would matter the most. If the lines are wires: electric, cable, etc., I would not worry at all. Wires do not crush.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 4:13PM
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The lines on the left side of the house are electric, cable, and phone. What I meant about my tree being killed in the event that lines needed to be worked on, is that if there was something wrong with one of the lines, they'd dig it up to fix it. If I had a tree sitting on top of the line, or nearby, I thought they'd dig up the tree too...or cut through the roots to dig up the line in the case of being nearby. You don't think that is something to be concerned about? I guess it isn't all that common for those lines to be dug up to be repaired/replaced...I just figure my luck would be that it would happen if I put a tree on top of it. Bah.

" If there is problem, then many times old lines are abandoned and new lines run in a different location."

I had never heard this. If that's true, then I guess they wouldn't have to dig up the tree...just find room to trench around it...

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 7:08PM
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All of the wire lines can withstand lots of pressure. The cable and phone, being the lightest duty wires, are also the easiest to reroute and replace. The electric cable will be the deepest and therefore the least likely to be disturbed. But it is possible to replace and reroute it, too, if it came to that.

If there was a break in the line in the vicinity of the tree, the guys who service the lines are not going to cut the tree in order to hunt down and search out the break in a tangle of roots ... which they couldn't really splice onto anyway. It's far easier to run a new line somewhere nearby.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:53PM
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Since you've made no mention of the size of the required tree, you could put in quite a small tree, and the HOA will leave you alone and you can fit it into the space you have.

There are quite small crab apple trees, dogwoods, small magnolias (star magnolia comes to mind). Spring flowers are a plus.

Look online or call your state ag extension. A tree which tops out at 12-15 feet will solve the problem, I believe, (plus, they will have no idea of the mature size if you don't tell them).

Bottom line: unless they told you the species to choose among, "a tree's a tree."

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 12:47AM
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The official document says minimum 2 inch caliper so what you describe would meet their requirements. I still think something 12 to 15 feet tall would look stupid blocking the house and be a tight fit to the left of the driveway.

I called the city to ask about utility easements and the markings from dig rite. The guy told me to start digging 3 feet from the markings. I told him the dig rite guy said you can dig on the lines (which then, what's the point of drawing them?) But the city guy made it sound like you're not legally allowed to dig within 3 feet of them which leaves me digging in my driveway or against the walkway to my front door... I might call the actual dig rite number or a lawyer if it comes to actually having to put in a tree because I don't want to let the HOA force me into legal issues.

Right now I'm still just waiting on the HOA to talk to me.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 6:15PM
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"...the dig rite guy said you can dig on the lines (which then, what's the point of drawing them?)" Dig, but carefully.

If at the end of it all you are forced into putting in a tree, it would be OK if you select a small species tree and plant it near the lot line, if that in fact qualifies according to the rules.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 6:51PM
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Yeah I was thinking if I absolutely have to, maybe a Hydrangea tree. I just think a 10+ ft canopy spread is gonna get tight. Seems like most smaller trees aren't any skinnier than that.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 7:20PM
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