Landscaping that includes trees and shrubs can certainly add to the beauty of a home. But, builders don’t usually put much thought into the type or the location of trees or shrubs they plant around a house. Typically, trees and shrubs are planted too close to the house. When the house is new, the plants look fine and the issue goes unnoticed. Problems can occur down the road.
Trees have different types of root systems. Trees like oaks and conifers have tap roots that can extend into the soil up to two or three times the height of the tree. These trees have fewer lateral roots. Other trees, such as pine trees, have extensive lateral root systems that extend as much as 35 feet or more in all directions from the tree base, but not so deep. Other trees have root systems that grow both deep and laterally.
Trees with deep tap roots can absorb large amounts of water from the soil. Inevitably, some of this moisture will be drawn from underneath the foundation if trees are located too close to your house. With moisture removed from the soil, it will shrink causing possible damage to the foundation.
Trees with lateral root systems can also pull moisture from underneath the foundation. Because these roots are shallow, they can also exert pressure against the foundation walls and sometimes even grow into the foundation.
Foundation problems caused by tree roots can include cracks in the foundation and raised foundation areas. On the house interior, problems can include uneven floors, doors that won’t close and drywall cracks.
Any problems to the foundation that are going to occur because of tree root systems will only get worse over time. As trees grow, their root systems will also grow, require even more water to thrive and absorb more water from the soil.
The time for action is now! Protect your home and your investment. Rethink those foundation plantings and the location of trees on your property. Determine which trees and shrubs need to be relocated and take them out while they are smaller. If they have already gotten too big, you may need to call in a professional.
If you have cracks in your foundation, doors that won’t close or drywall cracks, contact Atlantic Foundation and Repair at 919-855-0855 for a free evaluation.
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Author: Tom Holland, Sr. is a Professional Engineer with more than 40 years of experience in foundation repair technology and soil science. He is co-owner of Atlantic Foundation and Repair and been repairing homes in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area since 1999.