Landscaping projects are popular this time of year but many homeowners may be forgetting a simple addition designed to shield their foundation from destructive tree roots. They’re called root barriers and they could save you thousands of dollars down the road.
Tree Roots can Harm Your Foundation
Trees that are planted too close to a home’s foundation can cause serious problems over time. Tree roots actively seek nutrients and water and will leech good moisture away from the soil underneath your home. A single tree can pull 100 gallons of water from the soil each day. Some large trees can pull as much as 150 gallons each day through their roots! This process can dry out the soil and create foundation movement leading to cracks and other costly foundation problems. Olshan recommends planting new trees at least 10 feet away from your foundation. Aggressive root growth can also damage plumbing and drainage systems causing them to fail.
Consider Root Barriers
Root barriers act as a shield defending your structure from tree roots and can be an essential component of an effective foundation maintenance plan. They trap and deflect harmful roots from leeching moisture away from your foundation. They can also force roots down to deeper depths and discourage the growth of larger, more destructive roots from growing.
Root Barrier Installation
Root barriers are installed by digging a trench that is deeper than the existing root system. Then, a membrane is used to block the area between the foundation and the hazardous trees. On average, the depth of a root barrier dig-out should be approximately 3 feet. Root barrier installation can be a DIY project or can be provided as a service by companies like Olshan.
Olshan Tip: Improperly installed root barriers can jeopardize the health of your trees. Consider consulting a professional for help.
When installing root barriers yourself it’s important to note that roots can grow under and over improperly installed barriers resulting in potential foundation damage. It’s recommended that root barriers extend slightly out over the soil to prevent tree roots from growing over the barrier. In our experience we’ve also found that root barrier failure can be caused by shallow dig-outs or using ineffective or damaged materials.
If you have trees near your home we highly recommend installing a root barrier to protect your foundation.