Can Oak Tree Roots Damage Foundation?
If you are looking for practical ways to make your home calm and welcoming, consider planting oak trees within the compound.
Here are the benefits of this action to your home:
- Oak trees beautify the home and clean the air
- They also help reduce energy costs
- They are a useful water conservation element
- They are an investment and add value to the home
The Oak Tree’s origin dates back to about 56 million years ago, and it’s said to come from the Quercus genus. They require humus-rich, well-drained soils and full sun.
They are easy to grow and large, with the ability to reach 70 feet in height and 9 feet in width. Their branches can spread out to a maximum of 135 feet in length. Because of its size, oak requires a massive amount of water daily, probably about 50 gallons of water.
To plant them, all you need is to collect a handful of bright-coloured acorns free of holes resulting from inversion by insects. The next thing to do is remove the caps and soak the acorns in a water container overnight.
Through this step, you will get rid of damaged and immature seeds that eventually float on the top. You can now go ahead and plant the white acorns as you do further treatment known as stratification for the red acorns.
Stratification treatment entails placing the red acorns in a zipper bag containing moist sawdust or peat moss. From here, leave the mixture for about eight weeks, but ideally, you check out for moulding after every two weeks.
The final step is to fill 12 inches deep pots with potting soil and plant the acorns an inch deep when the first leaves unfurl, transplant the seedlings to a permanent location.
Reasons Behind the Increased Popularity of Oak Trees
In addition to being easy to plant, they also require less to zero specialties to manage and withstand harsh weather conditions. Moreover, oak trees are naturally appealing to change colour from green to gold, orange, and red. They also have a low-hanging canopy that makes a beautiful focal point in the yard.
Additionally, these trees act as a habitat and a food source for most wildlife. You also don’t have to worry about diseases and infections as these trees have their seeds sealed in a hard shell, the leaves and acorns covered in tannic acid hence keeping them resistant to such problems. The oak tree can also last up to 1000 years.
Furthermore, oak trees help in water drainage, particularly in areas prone to heavy rainfall, and help fight soil erosion in sloped areas.
Given their ease of maintenance, beauty, and the benefits they have on home environments, many people prefer them to other trees for their home compounds. Nonetheless, many concerns surround oak trees, and the question that most people keep asking is whether oak tree roots can damage the foundation?
Good question, but first, it’s essential to set the record straight and affirm that oak tree roots are not responsible for the foundation’s damage. What they do is worsen the situation initially borne from the condition of the soil underneath.
Tree roots searching for moisture move towards your home’s foundation, where they rip the nutrients beneath it. The subsidence in the soil leads to the loss of foundation support.
Tips To Protect Your Home From Oak Tree Roots Damage
Pointers such as cracks in the foundation’s floor, buckling in the floor’s surface, and shattered windows should ring a bell and warn you of the impending danger.
But you do not have to worry as you can safeguard your family following these cost-effective landscaping measures.
Install Root Barriers
Sometimes, it’s impossible to remove the tree, which leaves you with this option that entails diverting the roots away from the foundation. The process occurs using either chemical substances that prevent tree roots’ growth by destroying them or physical sheets of plastic. In this method, the impending sources are mostly channelled deeper into the ground. Physical root barriers are more common and most preferred due to their environmentally friendly ability.
The process entails digging a trench of at least 30 inches deep and placing an impermeable material that blocks further root growth. With such a barrier, you will prevent regrowth in the future and restore the ground’s levelness.
Take note, however, that a tree root barrier may not save you in cases where the tree is older than your house. This is because installing a root barrier will mean causing trouble to an area that had already adjusted to the tree’s moisture requirement, forcing the space previously occupied by the roots to become moisture and expand, further damaging the foundation.
When this happens, opt for other preventive measures outlined below.
Trim the Offending Roots
The main reason behind trimming is to prevent the roots from growing towards the foundation. As you do this, consider that the oak tree root system is responsible for its nutritional and structural needs; thus, be very careful with this option. When trimming, don’t go past three inches; this could lead to the tree’s death due to malnutrition.
Some of the things to alert you of your tree’s lousy condition are when it reveals yellow or brownish colour underneath.
Equally important, oak trees are known to lean and fall off during storms due to the trimming. Additionally, cutting large roots exposes the tree to infestation and diseases. Besides, note that your home’s foundation becomes part of the tree’s structural integrity when the roots grow beneath it.
Therefore consider hiring an expert’s services to help you access the situation and give way forward. A professional arborist will advise you on which roots will have minimum effect when trimmed.
Also, they will guide you on how to further take care of the trees in terms of their nutritional needs for healthy growth in the future.
Cut Down the Entire Tree
This should be the last option if all other measures fail. Please note that removing a tree from your compound could have harmful impacts on your property, and as such, make sure to have a professional do it on your behalf.
Before settling on this option, do your homework well to ensure that there are tree roots at the foundation’s base. Naturally, it’s hard for roots to grow down and survive the basement foundation’s wet conditions.
Also, oak tree roots divert and start growing downwards upon encountering the looser backfill soil near the foundation despite them growing horizontally naturally.
It won’t take a lot to identify the presence of the roots near a foundation. All you need is to dig a foot or two deep within a few feet of the foundation, and there you will have the answer. You will get to see the root if it’s present and cut it.
Future of Oak Trees and the Home Foundation
If you plan to plant oak trees in your compound, taking the following preventive measures will go a long way in enhancing easy collaboration between your home’s foundation and the fast-growing trees.
Plant the Trees 30 Meters Away From the House
The truth is oak trees are not ideal for apartment dwellers as they need ample space to grow. Their canopy can spread to 21 meters wide and grow to a height of 12 meters high. They have shallow roots and expand at a faster rate. Their rapid growth emanates from the fact that they drain a lot of water from the underground resulting in voids that cause stress on your home’s foundation.
For the oak tree to flourish, you must keep it away from obstructions such as buildings, under, and other large trees.
Have Your Soil Analyzed Beforehand
It’s important to carefully examine the soil found in your home before you plant any tree. As it is, tree roots extend in search of more water and nutrients, and as this happens, soil such as that composed of clay will compact and become more densely packed.
Also, take note that clay soil tends to expand during wet times and shrink during hot weather naturally. This unevenness has a significant impact on foundations which warps and cracks following the changes.
Therefore avoid such soils and opt for those made of loose dirt and rocks, which will shift and become displaced, giving room for the roots to move freely. Ideally, oak tree roots perform best in slightly acidic, well-drained soil with ample oxygen.
Give the Trees Adequate Water
Make a point to water your newly planted trees weekly to support the plant’s growth needs. Use an irrigation drip line to add water to the area around the trunk’s base to prevent the oak trees from taking up so much underground water. Make sure to place the drip several inches beneath the soil’s surface to work effectively.
As the tree matures, avoid watering near the base.
So, Can Oak Tree Roots Damage Foundation?
Oak trees can indeed have far-reaching impacts on one’s home when not adequately planted and managed. Therefore evaluate your situation using the above pointers, and if anything is amiss, contact a professional arborist to check the condition and give way forward.