Are Trees Affecting Your Foundation?

Jun 1, 2015

There is no doubt that trees are an overwhelming net positive for our environment. They improve air quality, reduce energy bills by providing shade, give us plump and delicious fruit and nuts, and are a vital part of the world’s ecosystem. At the same time, they do have some downsides – and no, we’re not talking about raking! Did you know that trees can affect your foundation? We’ll explain how, and what you can to do prevent trees from harming your foundation:

What do trees do?

Trees themselves are lovely, but their root system can cause trouble for your foundation if you aren’t attentive. When rainfall levels are low, tree roots can soak up moisture from the soil. Dry soil contracts around your foundation, which can cause the home to settle and shift.

Trees roots also exert pressure on your foundation. Growing tree roots wedge themselves between the soil and the basement wall, applying pressure that only increases as the tree ages. This tremendous pressure can eventually cause cracks in your foundation.

Managing Existing Trees

It is important to be vigilant if you have existing trees that are planted close to your home’s foundation. If a tree is shown to interfere with the foundation, you may have to remove it. If it’s at a safe distance, just make sure to prune the tree regularly. With the growth of tree kept under control, the root system will not expand too much.

Planting New Trees

In addition to keeping a watchful eye on new trees, you should also be very mindful when planting new trees to avoid interference with your home’s foundation down the road. When choosing what kind of tree to plant, consider the complexity and size of the root system.

According to forestry engineers, root systems can actually grow further than the tree’s branches, and the root systems can extend more than triple the tree’s height in depth. For these reasons, always plant new trees at a safe distance from your home’s foundation. The old adage “better safe than sorry” certainly applies here, so plant further rather than closer if you’re unsure. If you have any concerns, consult an arborist for their expert opinion.

Trees and your foundation should be able to peacefully coexist. With smart planting of new trees and a vigilant eye on existing trees, you’ll be able to protect your home’s foundation and avoid damaging cracks.

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