How to Keep Tree Roots from Harming Your Home’s Foundation

Tree roots spreading near home foundation

Ornamental trees provide us with cooling shade in the summer, provide songbirds with nesting places and increase the value of our homes.  They can also be a real threat to your home’s foundation – but not for the reason most people think.

Although tree and shrub roots can be invasive, they’re no match for poured concrete and concrete block foundations.  However, they can affect the water content of the soil on which your foundation sits which can lead to serious and sometimes costly foundation repairs.

According to the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences website,  “One large tree can lift up to 100 gallons of water out of the ground.”  That’s water that the soil needs to keep from cracking and shifting during the hot, dry summer months.  Tree roots that grow too close to your home’s foundation can severely deplete the water content of the soil.  Unable to penetrate the concrete slab, larger roots can also grow beneath your home’s foundation, sidewalks, and driveway.  As they continue to increase in girth, roots can apply a tremendous amount of upward pressure on these concrete elements and, in some cases, cause them to crack.

Inadequate drainage and soil grading can also be a problem.  Overwatering a tree that is located at a higher elevation can cause the unabsorbed runoff to pool around your foundation.  Over time, standing water can be absorbed by your home’s porous concrete slab, weakening and causing it to crack.

New Tree Placement to Protect Your Foundation
When planting new residential landscaping trees in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, you should choose varieties that have taproots that grow vertically. These include oak, walnut, hickory and cone-bearing conifer trees.  Keep in mind that some trees have root systems that spread beyond the drip line; the area directly located under the outer circumference of the tree branches.  So the root system of a  30’ tall tree could spread more than that distance in all directions.

Dealing with Existing Foundation Problems Caused by Trees
If you notice that an existing tree’s roots are threatening your foundation, driveway or sidewalk, you have a few options.  If the roots are threatening these structures but haven’t yet caused a problem, you might consider installing a root barrier to divert their growth.  If root growth is causing the soil around your foundation to dry out and crack or sections of your driveway or sidewalks to be lifted, you might consider cutting them back to prevent further damage.  Keep in mind that this might harm the tree or just prolong the inevitable as the pruned roots may regrow in time. The third and safest option is to have the tree removed entirely.

If your foundation has been damaged by invasive tree roots, give Atlas Foundation a call for a free foundation repair estimate.   We’ve been serving homeowners in Fort Worth and the surrounding communities for sixty years, and we stand behind every foundation repair we do with a transferable, limited lifetime foundation repair warranty.  Call us today at 817-478-1181 or click here to contact us via email.

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