Home » Tree Root Subsidence

Tree roots are one of the most common causes of subsidence. This is because they seek out moisture, which is found in soil, and that can cause clay or soil shrinkage. In turn, this results in the movement of building foundations, normally by way of sinking or tilting. This is otherwise known as subsidence. Where not all tree roots will cause such detrimental consequences, some tree species are more invasive and damaging than others.

Worst Trees for Subsidence

Certain trees are considered to be worse offenders than others when it comes to tree root subsidence. Of course, there a number of factors to take into account, such as the size or age of the tree, but the type or species of tree is one of the most important things to consider if you’re worries about subsidence caused by tree roots. With this in mind, below are some of the most damaging tree species by way of causing subsidence in both domestic and even commercial properties:



  • Willow Trees: Willow trees have a high demand for water and can absorb large amounts of moisture from the soil. This makes them far more likely to cause subsidence.
  • Oak Trees: Oak trees are known for their deep roots that will grow and extend into the soil beneath the building foundations, thus causing subsidence to occur
  • Poplar Trees: Poplar trees have a rapid growth rate and can quickly absorb large amounts of water from the soil. This makes them a potential risk for subsidence as it causes substantial and immediate soil shrinkage
  • Ash Trees: Ash trees have a large canopy which can shade the surrounding soil, reducing evaporation and contributing to subsidence by way of soil shrinkage – one of the leading causes of subsidence

Although these are, typically, the four worst tree offenders in terms of subsidence, they aren’t the only ones that can cause property owners to experience subsidence.



Any type of tree, regardless of species, can in fact lead to subsidence issues, but having certain ones in or around your property can obviously impact the chances of damage, especially if they have been planted considerably close to the building. It’s generally advised to have trees that sit close to a property professionally removed so as to prevent further damage, but which tree species should you look out for?

  • Conifers: Conifers, such as pine and spruce trees, have extensive root systems that can absorb a significant amount of moisture from the soil, causing the soil to shrink and move
  • Plane Trees: Plane trees have a large canopy and high water demand, which can contribute to subsidence
  • Sycamore Trees: Like plane trees, sycamore trees have a large canopy and high water demand, making them a potential risk for subsidence
  • Eucalyptus Trees: Eucalyptus trees are known for their fast growth and extensive root systems, which can cause damage to buildings and infrastructure by way of subsidence



  • Black Walnut Trees: Black walnut trees exude a chemical called juglone, which can inhibit the growth of other plants and damage building foundations considerably
  • Cottonwood Trees: Cottonwood trees have a high water demand and extensive root systems, which can contribute to subsidence as they grow and seek out any moisture nearby
  • Weeping Willow Trees: Weeping willow trees have a shallow root system that can extend into pipes and drainage systems, causing damage and blockages
  • Silver Maple Trees: Silver maple trees have a shallow root system and high water demand, which can cause soil shrinkage and contribute to subsidence

It’s important to keep in mind that not all trees of these species will necessarily cause subsidence. This is because there are a variety of other factors to consider, including how close they are to your property, how big the tree is and also how old it might be. Proper planting and maintenance of trees, as well as regular monitoring and assessment, can help mitigate risks associated with subsidence. So don’t be deterred from planting a wealth of plants and shrubs in your garden, just be sure not to plant them too close and do your research into their root systems, together with how much water they’re likely to need.

Here at Geobear, we have innovative underpinning solutions to rectify your subsidence issues, no matter how severe they might be. If you suspect that your property is experiencing subsidence issues as a result of tree roots, then contact a member of our professional, specialist team today – we’re always pleased to hear from you.

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