Tree Roots & Foundation Damage Part Deux

While some Texas concrete foundation repair companies tell us that trees living too close to the house can cause major foundation problems there is a pretty famous garden and landscape expert in the Dallas area who begs to differ.

I’ve heard him say as much on his radio show and the following represents a typical Q&A:

Question: I am considering planting a Shantung maple in an area near a driveway on one side and a house slab on the other.

What is your opinion of this maple’s root system regarding depth, surface roots or possible damage to the house slab?

M.L., Dallas

Answer: Shantung maple roots are no more damaging than other trees, probably less than many. However, the whole “roots damage foundations” scare is greatly overblown. Rarely do tree roots hurt foundations.

Obviously a huge tree right next to the house nudging the concrete foundation will cause problems. Foundation repair companies are right to point out that tree roots can get into the plumbing under the slab, making any leaks worse, and give you slab trouble.

And trees that are notorious for sucking all the moisture they can get to out of the soil like willows and salt cedars should be kept a “fer piece” from the casa.

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    • Roxanne Bartko
    • April 16, 2007

    We have a large oak tree between our house and the neighbor’s house. They were told by a structural engineer that our tree is ruining their foundation. He said the tree should be removed or a barrier should be built between the house and the tree. If this is done, according to the engineer, the tree will probably die. What can we do to save our tree. It was there long before they decided to build a house next to it.

  1. I think the health of the tree depends on how much of the root system is left unaffected after a barrier is installed between your tree and the neighbor’s foundation.

    In my case, the installed tree root barriers still left 1/2 to 2/3 of the total root system of the trees untouched.

    Any root barrier trench should be dug by hand using sharp tools that cut the roots cleanly, not tearing them, which is easier on the tree.

    Consider having an arborist or reputable tree service company take a look at your situation. Good Luck!

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