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Can Trees Damage Your Foundation?

Some trees have especially aggressive root systems that can grow into or around the foundation of your home. Any tree can put your foundation at risk if it is planted too close to your foundation. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can protect your home while still enjoying the beauty of a well-landscaped yard. This page will explore how trees cause damage to your foundation and what you can do to prevent the issue!

How Do Trees Damage Your Foundation?

Even though you can’t see them, tree roots are constantly growing as they search for spots filled with nutrients and moisture. While there is plenty of information on tree roots out there, it’s still difficult to predict just how vast a tree’s root system will become.

Many construction companies recommend that a home be built a reasonable distance away from a plot of trees (and vice-versa, trees should be planted away from the foundation). Root systems need adequate room to grow. If your foundation is an obstacle in their way, it’s not going to stop them. Instead, the roots will actually push up against, or grow directly into the foundation walls and cause cracks .

In other cases, tree roots might not directly damage the home’s foundation. Instead, the roots may loosen the soil supporting the foundation. When soil shifts, it has a direct impact on the foundation’s structure. With enough soil movement, the foundation can settle and lead to other issues like uneven floors or stuck doors and windows.

Brick wall cracked from the foundation up.

Root systems need adequate room to grow. If your foundation is an obstacle in their way, it’s not going to stop them.

How to 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.

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.

How to Fix Foundation Damage Caused by Tree Roots

When tree roots cause foundation damage, there are a few solutions at your disposal. JES has foundation repair methods to repair slab foundations, basement walls, and crawl space beams (all of which can be damaged by tree roots). Here are more details on each option:

Repairing Concrete Slab Foundations

If your home rests on a concrete slab and its been damaged by tree roots, we’ll install a foundation pier system. We offer three different pier varieties to adapt to different needs and situations, but each one accomplishes the same goal:

  • Push piers – straight, steel rods are placed into load bearing strata (sturdy subsurface rock) and then attached to the foundation footing.
  • Slab piers – used if there isn’t enough room in your yard for exterior excavation or if damage is directly under your home rather than near the sides.
  • Helical piers – generally used for lighter structures, its “helical plate” design allows it to screw into the ground for additional strength.
Push piers being attached to foundation footing, excavated ground.

Piers will redistribute the weight of your home and move it back into a safer, more level position. Our team provides free inspections that will help determine which pier is needed to repair your home.

Repairing Basement Foundations

Tree roots that have damaged basement walls usually cause issues like wall cracks or bowing walls. For situations like these, JES uses the following wall repair options:

Our team will determine which one is best for your home’s situation. Rest assured, each tool will provide your basement walls with newfound strength and slowly move them back toward their original position. These tools will also allow your basement to resist any future movement caused by tree roots.

Repairing Crawl Space Foundations

Crawl spaces are usually built with a system of beams and columns that support your home. If tree roots push up against these supportive structures, it can cause sagging floors inside your home. In order to keep crawl spaces sturdy, we install the IntelliJack™ crawl space support system.

Once installed, each IntelliJack™ beam provides up to 24,000 pounds of support to the crawl space floor joists. One of the best features of the IntelliJack™ system is that it can be adjusted to fit nearly any crawl space.

Crawl space support beams installed in and encapsulated crawl space.

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

With that in mind, consider planting these trees further away from the foundation. 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.

Contact JES for Foundation Repair Solutions

JES installer carrying materials to a truck in the background. Logo visible on back.

Trees near your home run the risk of causing foundation damage, but the issues can be fixed and prevented with our solutions. For over 30 years, JES has been a leader in foundation repair services, helping homeowners in Virginia, DC, Maryland, and North Carolina make their homes safer.

If you’re looking to repair your foundation, or you want to avoid damage altogether, consider working with our expert team. Contact us today to schedule a free inspection to take the first step toward protecting your most important asset—your home.

Phillip Mazzotta

Phillip Mazzotta

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    JES Foundation Repair service area map of the Mid-Atlantic region.

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    Nottingham, MD 21236


    311 Central Rd.
    Suite 2-02
    Fredericksburg, VA 22401

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    Northern VA & DC

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    Ashland, VA 23005

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    45 W Boscawen St,
    Winchester, VA 22601