Ask a Consulting Arborist Q&A: Root and Soil Concerns

Q: What can be done if roots are lifting a house's foundation?

Friday, April 15, 2016  

Q: I have a large oak tree close to my home, and the roots are beginning to lift up the foundation. Is there anything I can do to stop the growth?

A: There is a relationship between the number of tree roots and the above ground trunks, branches, and canopy of a tree. This is for both stability (keeping the tree upright) and providing enough nutrients, water, and oxygen for roots to sustain the growth/health of a tree. Recommended standards from the ANSI A300 Standards for Maintenance of Trees and Woody Plants for the minimum width of root areas based on the trunk diameter of the tree are used by arborists and foresters.

Every situation is different with trees and particular sites or properties. It is best to have a Certified Arborist, Certified Forester, or Registered Consulting Arborist come and inspect the situation with your tree to assist you in deciding if roots can be cut to prevent those growing into and/or under the foundation from growing anymore, or if those roots are too large and too close to the tree to just cut them, in which case the tree should be removed or relocated. That is really the decision that needs to be made–can you cut or prune the roots and still have a stable and living tree, or would the tree need to be removed because too much of the root system needs to be cut away to solve the damages to your structure.

Find a Consulting Arborist near you.

Responder: John Harris, RCA #468, Hollywood, FL