Can Trees Damage Your Foundation?

Trees that grow too close to your home or that have invasive root systems can start to compromise your foundation’s structural integrity.

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When you’re thinking about your landscaping, you’re more likely to think about coloration and dimension combinations than you are about the structural integrity of your home. If you’re not careful while you’re planting, however, you could accidentally put your foundation at risk.

How?

Some trees have especially aggressive root systems that can grow into or around the foundation of your home. Even trees that aren’t known for aggressive growth can put your foundation at risk if they’re planted too close to your home.

Luckily, there are a number of ways you can protect your home while still enjoying the beauty of a well-landscaped yard. Learn more here so you don’t accidentally plant a tree that, one day, might turn your life upside down.

Can Trees Damage Your Foundation?

Even though you can’t see them, tree roots are constantly at work gathering nutrients and expanding. Even though experts know a fair amount about the trees you have in your yard, it’s still difficult to predict just how vast a tree’s root system will become.

It’s with that in mind that many construction companies recommend that you build your home a reasonable distance away from a plot of trees. Root systems, after all, need room to flourish. If your foundation is an obstacle to their growth, they’re not going to stop – instead, they’ll find ways to work into or around your home.

That said, tree roots don’t deliberately or even directly damage most homes’ foundations. These roots, instead, tend to loosen the soil around a home’s foundation. When that soil moves more readily, water can make its way toward your foundation. There, it can generate hydrostatic pressure, which will cause your concrete or brick molecules to rapidly expand and contract. To compensate for that growth, your foundation may eventually crack.

The answer, then, is yes: trees and tree roots can damage your foundation. But they may do so in ways you don’t expect.

How Can You Protect Your Home From Root Damage?

Protecting your foundation from growing tree roots doesn’t have to be a challenge. There are a number of steps you can take to keep these roots from disrupting the stability of your home. Some of the most common include:

  • Planting new trees, shrubs, and hedges wisely.
  • Transplanting the trees, shrubs, or hedges that are already present in your yard so that they’re farther away from your perimeter.
  • Having a local contractor check the depth of your foundation. If your foundation is especially shallow, you’ll want to talk to a contractor about the steps you can take to better secure it.
  • Waterproofing your foundation. While most waterproofing measures won’t drive roots away from your home, they will protect you if the soil around your home starts to shift. When water can’t make its way into your home, your foundation will last longer and you’ll be less susceptible to water-related damage.

Most contractors recommend that you do what you can to preserve the trees in your yard. However, if a tree’s root system has become especially aggressive, you can talk to the professionals in your area about having trees removed from your property.

What Trees Have Aggressive Root Systems?

As mentioned, all trees can negatively impact the structural integrity of your home if they’re planted too close to your perimeter. That said, there are some trees that have more aggressive root systems than others. Some trees you may want to avoid including in your landscaping plan include:

  • American Elms
  • Willow Trees
  • Hybrid Poplars
  • Silver Maples

Note that these trees don’t share a genus or many other traits. Their root systems just need a lot of room to grow, and the trees themselves won’t stop growing if they run into an obstacle. With that in mind, consider planting any of these trees a fair way away from your home. Alternatively, if you’re moving into a new space where these trees have already been planted, talk to the professionals in your area about the removal or landscaping opportunities at your disposal.

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