Trees and Their Effect on Your Foundation

trees and their effect on your foundation

Do you have trees on your property and want to know what to look out for concerning your home’s foundation? Are you getting ready to build a house and want to know about the effects that trees could have on buildings that you plan on building?

One of the essential things to know is the type of soil that you have on the property, to help you understand how easy it will be for any trees to grow within the ground. If the type of soil you have is made up of dirt that is not compact and contains rocks, the tree(s) can shift and become dislocated because it can go through the ground with less resistance. If the soil that you have is made up of clay, which is a tightly packed type of land, the tree(s) will have to struggle more to push through the ground to grow.

Effect on Foundations

The three primary forces that trees have on building foundations are:

  • Direct root contact with the foundation – The kind of damage that could happen can depend on the size, type, and location of the tree, as well as the type of soil and type of foundation that you have. Tree roots grow away from the base of the tree up to three times its size of height but are usually only about four to five feet in depth in the ground. If you have more massive trees on your property, it is best to have them further away from your foundation if possible. If any trees are close to your home and any of the branches are touching it in any way, you will have its root system reaching close to or under your foundation already.
  • Changing the amount of moisture that is within the earth beneath the foundation or around the foundation – Draught can affect trees in ways that you might not expect, if the tree does not get the required amount of water needed, it will end up burrowing down under your dwelling’s foundation to reach the moisture it needs. The change in precipitation under or around the foundation can make it settle unevenly, and create damage.
  • Pockets of space plus unstable earth near or beneath a foundation when tree roots decay from damage or elimination of the tree – When parts of a tree start to shrink, this can cause space where it once was, making that area unstable and produce damage to your foundation when settling

Preventative Measures

The distance between trees and your foundation is something to be careful of.  You can help minimize or prevent damage to your dwellings infrastructure by following some necessary steps:

  • Construct a root barrier – You can do this by first digging down to the base of the foundation while doing this make sure to remove any roots that are advancing towards the home. Once the ditch for the barrier is dug, you can then place a specially formed material that helps to control the tree’s root system wherever it is set.
  • Make sure trees get adequate water – If they are not getting the water needed, they will encroach in places you do not want. If water deficiency is the issue, you need to make sure to water around the foundation to prevent the roots from going under it to find the water it needs. Water is essential, especially to sizable trees as they are known to discharge as much as 200 gallons of water a day into the air, so they need to be able to replenish enough moisture from the soil to live and not take it from around your foundation.
  • Be selective about the types of trees – If you have trees already next to your home, or if you are planning on adding trees around a house, it is best only to have or choose a variety that takes some time to grow, is shorter or an ornamental type, some of these are: Crabapples, American Hornbeam, Dogwoods, and American Hollys. Some types of trees that you should not have near your foundation are Willows, Elms, Silver Maples, White Ash, Poplars, and Oaks. If you already have a large tree in proximity to the foundation, you might want to get it removed.

If you do have or want trees near your house and garden, you need to make sure to frequently inspect around your foundation no matter what type of tree it might be and if you see any telltale signs, make sure to contact a qualified professional to get it evaluated. Some foundation problems to watch for are; a house that is inclining towards trees or bushes that they are near; destruction that is close to trees, bushes, or shrubs; any foundation disturbance that is on the part of the structure that gets the highest amount of sun that has trees or bushes near.

** This content has been edited since its original posting.

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