If Oak trees are to close to the house can they damage the foundation?

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Babs, Jun 24, 2007.

  1. Babs

    Babs Member

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    Hi, I need some information if 10 to 15 year old oak trees roots, could damage the foundation of a townhouse.
    I live in a 130 unit townhouse complex where every second unit has an oak tree planted in front about 3 meters away from the foundation. The roots are big, growing in some cases already above the ground and some of the walkways and drive ways are cracking. Don't get me wrong, I love trees, but in my opinion this kind of trees should be in a park or a big lot. Am I mistaken.? Please give me some inside, because our Strata Council believes this trees are perfectly fine where they are and half of our owners think otherwise. Also the acorns from these trees creating new little trees every where, if not picked up regulary.

    I appreciate any input you can give me. Thank you in advance.
    Babs
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2007
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Not yet, but there is a risk (could be high) later as the trees get larger. Depends on the soil, and the depth of the building foundations. Seek an on-site inspection and professional advice from an ISA-certified arboricultural consultant familiar with local conditions. It'll cost a bit, but the costs of any potential future subsidence damage are vastly larger.

    Resin
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    "Most of the warnings you hear about trees near a house concern the possibility of roots damaging the foundation. This fear is largely unjustified. It's an example of a popular perception that persists despite research by arborists, urban foresters, and others into the actual behavior of roots.

    Tree roots can certainly lift and crack sidewalks and driveways. They can even lift shallow foundation pads, such as the ones commonly used for garden sheds. The foundations of houses, however, are much more substantial. Roots will not invade soil where there is little air or moisture, so the soil under these foundations is not fertile ground for their growth. The roots will turn aside and seek better conditions.

    Nevertheless, you should be sensible. Don't plant a large species right next to your house wall. (Planting such a tree 20 feet away should be fine.) In time, the expanding trunk itself is likely to cause problems, as are the branches..."

    --Carol Reese, Ornamental Specialist, University of Tennessee Extension, writing in April 2007 'Horticulture' magazine
     
  4. Babs

    Babs Member

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    Thank you so much for your reply. Most of the trees in our komplex are already higher than the houses and the branches are hanging over the roof and the leaves are clogging the eves every fall and winter. Also we don't have 20 feet, mostly just 10 feet between house and tree. My own tree was removed last fall, when the roots were growing under my porch.

    Well thank you again for your quick answer.
    Babs
     
  5. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Actually, there is plenty of published scientific evidence for trees causing serious subsidence damage to foundations, primarily on shrinkable clay soils. A useful summary publication:
    D. F. Cutler & I. B. K. Richardson (1989). Tree Roots and Buildings, 2nd ed. Longman Scientific & Technical ISBN 0-582-03410-8.
    This summarises the results of the Kew Tree Root Survey, which covered 10,684 cases of subsidence damage to buildings in southeastern England where tree roots were an important contributing factor.
     
  6. Babs

    Babs Member

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    Thank you for the info, very much appreciated. Now I can start doing some serious reading.
    Babs.
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Probably "shrinkable clay soils" is a key factor.
     
  8. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Yes, it is - that's one of the reasons it needs to be investigated on site by someone familiar with local conditions.
     
  9. Babs

    Babs Member

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    Thank you again for your info and fast response. Our soil has lots of clay I discovered, while planting some new shrubs. Had to add a lot of good soil. My yard looks lovely now without the big tree.

    I will do some research for all the other residents and see what I can come up with.
    Thanks for the link to the book.
    Babs
     

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