Trees are a beautiful part of our landscape. They provide shade, give shelter to birds, and offer a green, natural feel to the suburban landscape.
However, these seemingly-harmless arboreal friends can actually pose a significant threat to your home— and not just from falling limbs. On the flip side, they can also safeguard your home in ways you may not have thought about.
Read on to see how trees can help and hurt your home’s foundation.
The Good: How Trees Can Help Your Homes Foundation
Trees have extensive, deep root systems that branch out surprisingly far from the base, not to mention deep down. This root system can wreak havoc on your foundation, but it can also be beneficial.
Trees stabilize the soil, helping prevent erosion; this is especially true in sloped yards. In periods of heavy rain, tree roots soak up water like a sponge, assisting in water drainage and preventing water from pooling up and becoming a problem.
The Bad: How Trees Can Cause Problems For Your Foundation
As mentioned earlier, root systems can spread far beyond the tree base, up to three times deeper and wider than the branches. These root systems can cause several different issues, especially if they’re left unchecked. The most common problem that can be caused by root systems happens to be the opposite of one of the ways trees can be helpful – soil destabilization.
This occurs when there is a rapid change in the moisture level in the soil – after a good rain, tree roots soak up moisture quickly, creating both a rapid change in the moisture level in the soil and a swelling of the roots themselves. This can cause a foundation to crack under the pressure of the unstable soil.
Your first thought may be to pull out any trees that you fear might be close enough to your home to cause trouble. However, this might be a bigger mistake than you might think. There is no easy way to remove all of the roots when you remove a tree; the rotting remains of the roots left behind can destabilize the soil even faster, leading to more potential foundation trouble.
What should you do instead? If you have older, established trees in place that may be dangerously close to your home, consider having root barriers installed to protect your home’s foundation. This is not a job to take on yourself – improperly installed root barriers can cause even more trouble. Remember, rotting roots can damage your foundation and potentially damage the tree as well. It’s best to call a professional.
When you are planning new landscaping and planting new trees, be sure to research the maximum height that your new trees will grow and multiply that height by three. This number is the safe distance at which you should be able to plant a tree so that it’s root system will not cause trouble as it matures.
What To Do if You Suspect a Problem
Tree-related foundation problems can sneak up on you Don’t let this happen to you— catch any problems before they get too troublesome by performing a regular visual inspection of your home. Be on the lookout for unusual cracks, including vertical cracks in walls, zigzag-shaped cracks, cracks that run from the wall down through the foundation, and cracks that are wider at the bottom and narrower at the top are all potential problems.
If you feel you have trees that are potentially encroaching upon your foundation, particularly if you notice any cracking, bowing, or changes in general to your homes’ structure, including doors and windows that are increasingly difficult to close, then you should call a foundation expert like Edens Structural Solutions right away. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with a knowledgeable foundation expert.