If you have trees on your property, you have most likely been reaping the variety of benefits that they provide. They enhance the beauty of your home, keep the air clean and help keep you cool when it gets hot. They are, however, capable of doing a lot of damage to your home and the surrounding areas as well if you aren’t careful. For instance, old branches can fall and do harm to your property. If you have your trees professionally trimmed periodically however, you can deal with this recurring issue.
There are other potential ways your property can be damaged however, and the scary part is, it can go completely unseen. We’re talking about the tree’s roots, which can grow out of control if not properly managed.
Often it’s poor planning on the part of the homeowner, who is responsible for the damage caused by tree roots. If you are careful when choosing and planting your trees, many problems can be avoided. The aim of this article is to advise you on both the proper planning and proper management of aggressive root systems.
How Tree Roots Work
First it’s a good idea to have a proper understanding of how tree root systems work. It is the roots that anchor the tree in the soil as it grows. Their job is to keep the tree stable while collecting water and nutrients to nourish it. Roots can actually sense the presence of water and nutrients in the soil and will move towards any sources of nourishment they can find. The plants have a vascular structure that can then draw the water and nutrients upwards and into the rest of the plant.
Roots are incredibly strong. They are able to grow up to three times the diameter of the branches, spreading throughout the ground as they grow. This is a slow process, taking years, and it means that for every tree you see, there is a very large part of it growing underneath the ground.
As tree roots grow larger, they displace more and more of the soil that they are growing within. This is often what causes the damage; the displaced soil can place a lot of pressure upon sidewalks, pipes, and other structures that are built under or on top of the soil. The roots are also capable of damaging landscapes as they push through the surface and become visible, ruining the aesthetic appearance of the area they’re growing in.
As tree roots grow underground, they seek water. This makes them a particular threat to pipes as they will grow towards any water sources that are nearby. In their endless search for water, they can force their way inside of pipes, breaking them apart and clogging them as they do so. They can also damage pipes by displacing soil; as the soil shifts, even a small amount, they can do serious damage to pipes, especially if they are older.
Older sidewalks are also susceptible to soil displacement. As the roots grow underneath the sidewalks, they can push them upwards, causing them to crack and buckle which creates the need for costly repairs.
There are several steps you can take to manage these problems however. As we mentioned it all starts with planning.
Planning Around Tree Roots
Before placing any trees in an area, make sure you know the location of any underground pipes so that you can avoid them as necessary. Simply having underground pipes doesn’t mean you can’t plant any trees; you simply have to take care with which species you choose. Maple trees are an example of a species which grows quickly but rarely causes damage with its roots. Buckeyes, pagodas, horse chestnuts, magnolia, and dogwood are other examples of non-invasive trees.
The least invasive trees available to you will vary depending upon your location. Check with your local Parks and Recreation department for a list of the best species to use.
Managing Tree Roots
In many cases, you can’t control where the trees are since the trees were either already planted when you acquired the property, or perhaps you are dealing with trees the city has installed around your property. Whatever the reason, there are still options open to you to manage the growth of aggressive roots.
Tree root barriers are often an effective method of controlling root growth. They are, simply put, walls that prevent roots from passing through. They are generally made of corrosion resistant materials such as plastic or fiberglass. Install them carefully, since an improperly placed tree root barrier can do more harm than good. They can damage trees themselves or even prevent water from draining properly so take care to follow instructions when placing them. They should reach a depth of at least two feet underground to redirect root growth properly.
Tree growth retardants are a popular fix for many people, however we do not endorse them since they tend to prevent the visible parts of the tree from growing without actually doing anything to control the growth of roots. If you are not able to find any of the aforementioned methods effective, you may have to remove the tree. In this situation, you should always hire a tree service professional because if the tree stump isn’t properly removed the roots may continue to grow.
For any and all assistance managing your trees, contact Mr. Tree today!