The vast majority of the time, planting trees close to buildings doesn’t result in any damage. Occasionally, however, the roots of a tree can wind up damaging the structure of the building. Other problems like drainage blocks and cracked pavement can also arise. In order to decide what steps to take when dealing with problematic trees, homeowners need to evaluate a number of factors including the type of soil and the foundation depth.
Understanding The Conflict between Buildings And Trees
Subsidence-Related Damage To Building Structures
This problem typically occurs in areas where the soil has a high clay content. Four-story or taller buildings with pre-1950s construction are most prone to experiencing problems, simply because their foundations don’t have a lot of depth.
Problems With Blocked Drains
Tree roots can get inside drains where they can cause blockages. Poorly sealed drains that leak are prone to developing open areas where water enters the surrounding soil, which can attract tree roots. This problem most often occurs with outmoded drains that have rigid joints.
Damage To The Structure Itself
Branches and roots can both be problematic when it comes to structural damage. Exterior components such as gutters and roofs can be damaged by branches. Underground, roots and suckers can cause pavement to crack and can lift lightweight structures such as sheds and garages.
Understanding How Trees Cause Problems Plus Tips On How To Control Them
The Problem With Tree Roots
In areas where the soil has a high clay content, tree roots can cause the soil underneath the foundation to dry out if there is not an adequate amount of rain. This can result in soil shrinkage. Typically, this problem occurs toward the end of summer, which is why it often is referred to as seasonal soil moisture deficit. In most cases, the soil is able to restore its moisture during the winter thanks to the increased level of rain.
The shrinking of the soil can cause foundation subsidence, which can lead to cracking in the structure. Cracks are typically seen in the areas around doors and windows. In most cases, these cracks won’t appear until a minimum of 5 mm of movement has occurred. Although it doesn’t occur as frequently, the soil underneath the foundation can become permanently dry. Even though it is quite rare, removing a tree under these conditions can cause the foundation to move upward. This is the result of the clay expanding when the tree roots are removed.
Instances of tree roots penetrating directly into footings that are structurally sound are extremely uncommon.
The roots of trees are naturally drawn to water. This is the primary reason why they infiltrate drains. When drains are completely watertight, they usually are unaffected by the roots of trees.
What Steps Can Be Taken To Reduce The Chances Of Damage?
Anytime trees are planted close to a building, the right varieties need to be chosen. That doesn’t necessarily mean opting for small trees. Many large trees are suitable for planting near structures. In recent years, cities and towns have become a bit too cautious about planting trees, resulting in areas that don’t have nearly enough greenery. Trees are essential in urban settings since they help maintain balance in the environment.
It is practically impossible to tell which trees will lead to damage and which ones won’t. Even in high-risk situations, not all of the trees that are planted will contribute to subsidence. Systems that are designed to predict risk are inherently flawed. In most cases, the best option is to allow trees to grow until damage occurs.
Factors to consider if you are worried about planting trees close to buildings:
Trees are commonly planted next to buildings. The vast majority of the time, they don’t result in any type of damage.
There are certain situations, however, where trees that are located close to buildings can result in significant issues. For instance, if the weather is dry for an extended period of time, it could cause problems.
The main type of damage caused by trees is subsidence. Along with that, external factors such as falling branches or uprooted trees can also pose a risk to nearby structures.
If you are responsible for caring for a tree that is located close to a building or near a public street, you should have it evaluated approximately every three years. A professional evaluation that takes into account the health of the tree can help determine whether or not it needs to be pruned or removed. Maintain copies of the reports that you receive in case you ever need to negotiate with a public entity or with your insurance company. You may need the help of groundsun and their mini piles
Legislation Surrounding Trees
From a legal standpoint, the person who owns the property is responsible for the trees that grow on it. As a result, landowners are typically held liable for damage that is caused by their trees. If you are planning on working on a tree, make sure to contact the local planning authority to find out if there is a Tree Preservation Order active for that particular tree.