Home » What Damage Can Tree Roots Do to Your House Foundations?

What Damage Can Tree Roots Do to Your House Foundations?

(August 24, 2023)

There is no denying that trees are an excellent way of adding curb appeal to your home. They’re also incredibly beneficial to the environment and provide a wealth of natural habitats for wildlife. But that doesn’t mean to say that they can cause a problem for homeowners who have a property nearby. It’s common knowledge that tree roots, especially large ones, can cause damage to house foundations, resulting in issues such as subsidence. But let’s delve deeper into the damage that tree roots can do, together with how you can stop it and.


What damage can tree roots do to your house foundations?

Tree roots will keep growing, looking for nutrients and water in the soil as they go. These roots can become hard and solid over time, making them incredibly difficult to control. It also reinforces their strength, meaning they’ll be able to burrow their way through even the most sturdy of foundations. Not only can tree roots damage the very foundation of your home, but if they burrow their way underneath, it can suck all of the moisture out of the soil, causing it to shrink. This can have a detrimental effect on the integrity of the house, meaning your house could suffer from subsidence or heave.

Concrete is no match for tree roots that are determined to find all of the resources they need in order to survive. The older and larger a tree grows, the higher the risk with regards to house foundation damage. Not only can tree roots damage your house foundations, but they can also cause damage in other ways, such as:

  • Damaging pipework
  • Bursting water pipes
  • Causing patios, driveways, pavements and garden paths unstable
  • Disturbing internet cables that are laid in the ground


How can trees cause problems to your house foundations?

You might be wondering how tree roots are able to cause such damage to a house that has stood strong for decades. The most common cause of subsidence, when tree roots are responsible, is because the roots are seeking out moisture and they’ll go as far and as deep as they need to in order to locate it. 

As it starts to soak the moisture up, it causes the soil to shrink. This soil shrinkage is what causes the foundations to move as it’s no longer sitting on top of soil that’s dense and stable. In addition, tree roots can puncture pipework that sits below the ground, cause water to seep out and cause the soil to expand, which can also cause foundation damage. Not only does it have the potential to cause subsidence, but it can also cause heave. As you’ve already determined, it’s really not that difficult for tree roots to disturb the integrity of your home, more so if the following things apply:


Trees are planted too close together

Trees that are planted too close together will constantly be competing for moisture and nutrients in the soil. This means that each one will be going further than the other in order to seek out everything it needs to survive. Not only this, but roots can become entangled, so one small root could soon become one large root that is composed of several smaller ones. This is what can impact the look of your driveway, patio or path, but it can also pose a threat to pipework underground as well as your house foundations.


Trees are planted too close to the property

Even one tree that is planted too close to a property can cause a problem with regards to house foundation issues. You need to make sure you do your research into the different tree species so as to ensure you’re not cutting down a tree that is protected. In addition to that, it would also help to put your mind at rest if you know that the tree isn’t going to grow very big. 

The smaller the tree, the smaller the roots, generally. But if you have a tree that’s planted too close to a property, and it’s sizable, then alarm bells should be ringing. This is because the tree roots won’t have to go very far before they burrow their way through, or under, your house foundations. If it’s particularly large, then the roots could already be causing substantial damage to your home.

If you buy a house that has a tree planted close by, it will almost certainly come up in a house survey along with advice that states you should have it removed properly by a competent professional. Here at Geobear, we can carry out sterling tree root removal services that you can trust, taking great care to protect your house foundations whilst removing the tree roots entirely. 


It can be determined based on tree type & species

As already touched upon, the size, strength and determination of tree roots depend largely on the tree species you’re dealing with. Where a small shrub should still be removed if planted too close to the house, a sycamore tree should most definitely be planted a few metres away from any property. This is because a sycamore tree can grow to immense sizes, whereas a hydrangea, for example, wouldn’t pose nearly as much of a threat if planted close to a house.


How can I control the trees surrounding my property?

There are plenty of things that you can do to keep the risk of tree root issues to an absolute minimum. The most effective thing you can do if you’re worried about tree roots causing issues to your house foundations is to remove them or not plant them at all. 

  • Keep trees at a manageable size
  • Don’t plant trees too close to the property
  • Remove trees that are too close to the property
  • Think about the trees that you’re planting before you plant them
  • Consider the species of tree before cutting them down
  • Check who is responsible for the tree before doing anything to it
  • Have tree root removal services carried out


Can climbers, wall shrubs & hedges cause the same level of damage

Yes, they do pose the same threat, especially large wall shrubs and climbers like Wisteria and Pyracantha. These can be responsible for localised subsidence over a period of time. It can also put people off buying the property, which is something you should consider if you’re looking to sell. Hedges can also pose a risk, especially if they’re tall. This is because they can cause soil dryness. If you’re worried about subsidence, then make sure your hedge is kept at a height that is equivalent to the distance it is away from the property.


Here at Geobear, we have a wide range of different subsidence solutions available to homeowners. From underpinning and resin injection methods right through to stabilisation and re-levelling, no project is too big or small for our team of highly-trained, exceptional team of engineers. For more information about how we can help you today, get in touch with a member of our professional team – we’re always pleased to hear from you.

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