Your home’s foundation is a crucial component of structural integrity, and it’s essential to safeguard it from potential threats, including trees and shrubs. In this blog post, we’ll explore the challenges that trees and shrubs pose to your foundation, and we’ll discuss strategies to mitigate these problems.
Trees and shrubs can create issues by drawing moisture from the soil, especially large trees, which have substantial water needs. They can extract enough moisture from the soil beneath the foundation to cause it to settle. Similarly, large shrubs can compete for moisture in a similar way. Over time, the extensive roots of large trees can even lift the foundation’s edges.
Ideally, when planting trees, ensure they are placed far enough away from your home so that the outermost branches’ drip line won’t extend over your home as the tree matures. Be cautious about planting trees and large shrubs that could become problematic as they grow.
If you discover small, young trees close to your foundation, it’s generally a good idea to remove them promptly. However, dealing with mature trees nearby is a more complex situation. Mature trees are beautiful and valued for their aesthetics, so most people hesitate to cut them down.
There are alternatives to tree removal, such as installing root barriers, which should be discussed with your engineer or arborist. Keep in mind that altering your existing landscape should be considered on a case-by-case basis, and the ultimate decision depends on what you are comfortable with. Some individuals may prefer to tolerate slight foundation movement rather than cutting down a magnificent 50-year-old oak tree.
Many homes face challenges with growing grass around their foundations because trees often out-compete the grass for moisture and soil nutrients. In such cases, a practical solution is to transform these areas into gardens and apply a generous layer of mulch. Mulch can be highly effective in retaining soil moisture, preventing excessive drying.
Many of these maintenance considerations apply to pier and beam foundations as well.