Growing and Maintaining Healthy Trees

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How Can Tree Roots Damage Your Home's Foundation?

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Trees can make a wonderful feature in your outside space. However, trees are alive, and they keep growing as they age. This can be a problem when the tree starts to lean, overhang another property, or simply grow large enough to block out your view. However, there's a more serious problem; as they grow, roots spread further, and that can disturb the foundation of your home.

How Do Tree Roots Disrupt the Soil?

Actually, it's not the tree roots themselves that damage your property. You aren't going to wake up one day to find them wrapped around the windows. Instead, it's the way they move soil that causes problems.

You see, tree roots are very powerful, and they need to constantly extend themselves to seek out water and nutrients. As they do so, they move through the soil and place added pressure in certain places. Additionally, roots shrink during droughts and then swell during heavy rain—that expansion and shrinkage can further damage the soil's structural integrity, especially if your soil is composed primarily of clay instead of loose dirt and rocks

How Does Shifting Soil Affect Your Property?

Shifting soil leads to concrete settling. During this process, concrete is likely to shift or crack. There may be cracks in your foundation's floor or vertical cracks along the foundation's walls. These are serious problems, and they may be accompanied by other visible symptoms that something is wrong. The floor may be uneven, the window frames and doors may seem to sit out of kilter, and windows can even crack or shatter with no evidence of trauma.

As the soil continues to shift, support beams may move and become incapable of distributing pressure equally. Walls may sink or crack, and the ceiling may become uneven.

How Can You Address these Problems?

Such serious structural problems demand a response, and there are a couple of things you can do to stop the offending tree from ruining your home.

If you want to keep the tree, you can have a root barrier built. However, this involves the cutting away of roots near your foundation and often the need to dig right down to the base of the foundation.

It's generally easier to simply remove the tree. The threat will be eliminated, and the cost of tree removal is usually less than that of root barrier work. You can then plant a new tree that has more passive rooting tendencies.