An oak, palm or Magnolia tree can add a lot of character to a yard, but they can be harmful to your roof. If you don’t manage your trees, you may end up with damaged shingles or, worse, a tree through your roof. Here are all of the ways a tree can damage your roof (and how to prevent them.)

1. Dropping Leaves and Needles

While some trees drop a lot more leaves than others, all trees lose their leaves—or at least their needles.

Leaves and needles can create problems on your roof, including clogging gutters and encouraging moss and algae growth. It’s best to clean leaves and needles from the roof every six months. It can also help to have a high-pitch roof near any taller trees, so the leaves cannot collect as easily.

2. Dropping Fruit and Nuts

Certain tree species can also produce fruit and nuts which, if left to rot on your roof, can also cause problems. Some nuts, like black walnut, produce dark stains on roofs. Some fruits will be large enough to damage the roof from impact, especially if they are falling from a distance. It’s best to cut down nut and fruit trees that overhang the roof.

3. Falling Over

A large tree can damage your roof by falling on it. It may fall due to illness or injury during a storm, like lightning strikes, high wind, or frost. A good rule is not to keep any trees that are so close to your home they could damage the roof by falling. If you already have a mature tree too close and want to keep it, it’s best to have an arborist monitor its health regularly.

4. Scraping the Roof

If you have a tree overhanging the roof, it may be close enough from the branches to touch the shingles, especially as they are blown by the wind. This scraping is bad news for your roof and can damage shingles over time. It’s best to have trees trimmed so that the branches never touch the surface of the roof.

5. Shading the Roof

Providing a little shade to the roof isn’t a bad thing in California. Instead, shading the roof can help keep the temperature of the whole house down. However, if you have moss or algae growth on the roof, the shade can make their growing conditions better.

6. Producing Sap

Certain tree species may also drip sap. Honey locusts and elms may drip sap onto whatever is below them. If that’s your roof, the sap can cause damage shingles and interfere with the proper flow of water from the rooftop. We suggest you simply cut these trees down, as there’s no way to control the sap. Plus, the sap can also damage cars, gardens, and get on your skin.

7. Attracting Animals

Lastly, trees that are close to your roof may make the rooftop more attractive for animals. Animals like squirrels can use the tree to get onto your roof. Birds and small mammals may be attracted to the leaves, fruits or nuts the tree sheds onto your roof. If you have an animal infestation, it’s best to consult with an expert and discover what’s attracting them to your roof. Most likely, you’ll need to cut back the tree, so it’s further from the roof.

If you’ve decided your tree needs a prune, or to be taken down altogether, be sure to call in a licensed tree service or arborist. The last thing you want is to damage your roof when you’re cutting the tree down.