Yes, tree roots can damage your foundation. In this article, we explain why and answer other frequently asked questions about tree roots and foundations. It’s important to note that foundation repair contractors do not remove or relocate trees or other shrubbery. So, you’ll need to call an arborist or landscaper before you want to address any foundation damage.
How Can I Protect My Foundation From Tree Roots?
Unless you remove the tree, a root barrier can prevent roots from growing near your foundation. These plastic or metal barriers are placed around the tree’s stump below the soil, directing its roots downward instead of the sides. This prevents the roots from spreading toward your foundation and causing any damage.
What Trees Should Not Be Planted Too Close To Your House
Trees with aggressive root systems that grow out rather than down should not be planted too close to your house. Here’s a list of trees with the most invasive roots.
- Hybrid Poplars – Hybrid trees are fertilized using pollen from another tree species. These poplar trees were fertilized and modified to grow faster than usual. Since they are primarily used as a quick source of pulpwood, energy, and lumber, they don’t make good landscape trees. They have shallow, invasive roots and usually live around 15 years on homeowner’s properties.
- Willows – Willow trees, including the Weeping, Corkscrew, and Austree willows, have moisture-loving, aggressive roots that seek out leaking sewer, septic, and irrigation lines. Willows also have very shallow roots that lift sidewalks, damage foundations, and crack other paved surfaces. This also makes it harder to mow your lawn since the roots are at the surface.
- American Elms – These trees have moisture-loving roots that tend to invade sewer lines and drain pipes. If American Elm roots make their way under your foundation, there’s a chance they will absorb too much moisture in the soil and leave pockets in the dried areas. This can lead to settlement issues since your foundation can sink into the voids.
- Silver Maples – These trees have shallow roots that can expose themselves above your soil. Keep these trees away from your foundation, driveway, and sidewalk. Silver Maples also make it difficult to grow any plants, including grass, under and around the tree since the roots take up more space.
Other trees you should avoid planting near your home include White Ash, Pine, Oak, Cottonwood, and Aspen. Experts always suggest planting regular trees at least 10 feet away from your foundation and trees with aggressive root systems at least 25 to 50 feet away.
If you have one or multiple trees that fall under this list on your property, consider removing them or checking their roots. If you think roots are damaging your foundation, excavate the area around your foundation and see if you can cut the root. If you want to keep the tree and there are too many roots to cut, call an arborist and have them install a root barrier.
How Tree Roots Damage Your Foundation
Tree roots can damage your foundation in two ways: when they come in direct contact with your concrete foundation or if they absorb too much moisture in the soil below your home.
- Direct damage – If the roots crawl against your foundation, their slow movement can lift, break, or crack your concrete. If you hit your concrete foundation with a stick, it probably won’t do any damage. But if a root presses against it and slowly grows larger, the tedious movement can damage your foundation over time.
- Moisture and soil – Your foundation was most likely poured over compacted soil. When aggressive tree roots crawl under your foundation, they can absorb the moisture in the soil and create voids. If the roots die and disintegrate, they’ll leave behind more pockets. If these voids grow bigger, your foundation may lose support and settle into the soil under the weight of your home.
What Trees Have The Least Invasive Roots?
Eastern Redbuds, Crabapples, Star Magnolias, and Serviceberry trees are a few of the most common landscape trees with less invasive roots. Not all trees have invasive or aggressive root systems. So, you should always consult an arborist who can tell you what trees are safe to plant near your home.
Should You Cut Down Trees Too Close To Your Home?
You don’t have to cut down trees too close to your home if their roots are not causing any issues or presenting future problems. Some tree roots are not interested in the soil below your foundation and may spread into other areas. If you’re unsure, call a foundation repair company and arborist.
Can Tree Roots Break Through Concrete Foundations?
Tree roots can’t break through concrete foundations unless there’s an existing crack or opening that allows them to crawl inside. The same applies to sewer pipes. Tree roots can only enter sewer pipes if they detect a weak seal or crack leaking water into the soil. Otherwise, tree roots will usually direct themselves around hard objects like pipes or concrete. Once a tree root does make its way inside a pipe or crack, it can grow and cause serious damage.
Who Is Liable For Tree Root Damage?
In most states, you are liable for any damage caused by trees and roots encroaching onto your property. If the tree’s stump is on your neighbor’s property, but its roots are crawling under your foundation, most state laws allow you to take action within your property boundary. Unfortunately, if you kill the tree by cutting its invasive roots, you could be liable and have to compensate the owner. Always double-check with your local city codes.
Who Can Help With Foundation Damage Caused By Tree Roots?
If trees are damaging your foundation, call The Real Seal. We don’t remove or relocate trees, but we can assess and address any foundation damage caused by invasive tree roots. This includes foundation cracks, settlement, soil pockets, and more. Call today for your free inspection and estimate.