• October 21, 2019

GARDENING: Tree roots pose little risk to home foundation - Odessa American: Gardening

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GARDENING: Tree roots pose little risk to home foundation

Floyd is a horticulturist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service. He can be reached at 498-4071 in Ector County or 686-4700 in Midland County or by email at Jeff.Floyd@ag.tamu.edu

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Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2018 4:00 am

Fortunately, trees roots are lazy. Despite the hype, they usually pose no real risk to your home’s foundation when the trunk is at least a modest distance away from the structure.

Generally, the minimum tree planting distance from a foundation is ten feet.

However, to ensure that you can sleep well at night, you could plant it just a few feet further away. Still, when planting a tree only six feet from your home, your home will probably not experience any foundation damage. It’s difficult for homeowners to find solid information on the risk factors. The disagreement among good arborists is probably due to individual experiences, their understanding of how roots grow and historic differences between building codes.

Roots grow where conditions are favorable. They’ll almost always grow away from solid objects. This tends to benefit homeowners when it comes to foundations. Most building codes require foundations to be poured at least twelve inches deep. Roots can easily lift sidewalks, driveways, and other shallow concrete structures as opposed to a foot-deep foundation supporting the substantial weight of an eight-foot brick wall buttressed by other walls.

A better measure for tree planting is no closer than half the distance of the mature spread of its canopy. This will help avoid any conflict between the structure of the home and the tree’s branches in addition to conflicts with the foundation. Rarely would half the width of a tree canopy be less that ten feet for any species that would grow large enough to cause structural damage.

To become a Texas Master Gardener in 2019 and learn more about trees, contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 6876-4700, or email jeff.floyd@ag.tamu.edu.

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