Should They Stay or Should They Go?I love trees. I climbed them as a child. I am amazed at their beauty as an adult. They serve a great purpose, both as something beautiful to admire and as a natural resource. Trees in a yard can make a house look fantastic. But trees can be dangerous to home. They need to be planted a certain distance from the home, depending on the tree and its root system. If you are planting a new tree or evaluating an existing tree in your yard, call an arborist. Do it right, or you can cause a major damage to your home's foundation.
Trees can cause foundation damage in 3 ways:
1. Physical contact with your foundation.
2. Affecting the moisture content of the soil under or near your foundation.
3. Causing air gaps and shifting soil due to decaying roots under or near a foundation.
Larger trees are a bigger concern with physical contact. Obviously, the larger the roots, the more damage may occur. The roots can extend more than 3 times the height of the tree. So if you have a 50 foot tree, it's roots may grow out to 150 feet away from the tree. The proximity of the tree to your house can make a huge difference. A good gauge is if your tree has limbs near or over your home, its roots are probably growing under your foundation. If you have a Pier and Beam foundation (usually found in older homes), this is less of a concern. Slab foundations sit on the soil and is more easily affected by root pressure.
Trees can affect the moisture content of the soil under and around your foundation. This is a concern if your foundation is "floating" on that soil (slab foundation). Trees transpire (draw in) water through their roots. And where are their roots? In the ground. If the tree is too close to your home, it is drawing moisture from the soil supporting your foundation and it will begin to recede. If you are not watering the entire perimeter of your home's foundation, it will recede much quicker. If you are not watering around your perimeter, the tree roots will look for water elsewhere. And the closest place for them to find it is under your home. They will grow out, looking for an adequate water supply. If you keep it watered and your trees are set the right distance away from your foundation, you are less likely to have foundation damage.
Tree RemovalIf you have trees removed, make sure the entire root system is removed and the gap is filled in. If the roots are left, there will be gaps when they decay. Your soil will shift to fill those gaps, causing your foundation to shift. If your tree has many years of life left, it is often recommended to steer the roots away from the house, rather than remove the tree. If the tree is near the end of its life, removal is recommend.
Again- call an arborist when dealing with trees. There are lasting consequences of improper planting, maintenance and removal of trees. They are beautiful and a wonderful resource, but they must be maintained properly or they become a hazard for your home. Insurance carriers will not insure foundation repairs due to wear and tear. Letting a tree root system grow into your foundation is wear and tear. Not watering your foundation properly is wear and tear (and neglect!). As a homeowner, this is one of your responsibilities. Take good care of your foundation. It is the entire base your home rests upon!