Tree roots often times get a bad wrap, they get blamed for many structure problems (uprising the sidewalk, cracking foundations, etc.). The tree’s roots are not always the “root” cause of these problems. There are some practices that you may follow to help reduce these types of situations.
1. Planting Location
- Shade Trees (i.e. Maples, Oaks, Elms, etc.) – Do not plant within 20′ of a potential structure
- Ornamental Trees (i.e. Serviceberry, Magnolia, Redbud, etc.) – Do not plant within 6′ of a potential structure
2. Cultural (Nurturing) Practices
- Maintain good watering practices during dry months (typically 1 in. of water per week, taking into account rainfall)
Unfortunately, in many cases, trees are not planted within these guidelines stated above. What can be done in these instances? Root pruning may be a viable option for the tree in question. Root pruning is exactly as it sounds, removing the roots below the soil surface, it is often used in pre-construction activities to minimize long-term impact to trees. It can also be used in certain circumstances when tree roots and structures are against each other. A Certified Arborist would be best to make the determination if root pruning is a viable option, they would take into account the type of the tree, size, and proximity to the structure. If it is too close to the structure, within a few feet, root pruning may be too aggressive of an approach in regards to the amount of root loss.
For more information on tree roots and structures, you can read a great article at the Renegade Gardener website – http://renegadegardener.com/content/myth2007.htm
So, next time you’re planning to put in that new pool in the back yard, new back patio deck, or any other excavation project, make sure to address the needs of the surrounding trees to prolong their health and longevity!
Leave a comment if you’ve ever run into a situation involving tree roots and structures!