Root of the Matter

September 16, 2020 · 1 minute read
Root of the Matter

Responsible for anchorage of the tree, absorption, conduction, and storage of water and minerals, roots are often a direct reflection of a tree’s canopy. Their health greatly impacts canopy health.

Recently I’ve fielded a lot of questions regarding tree roots, so I thought I’d cover a few frequently asked ones here:

Can tree roots damage the foundation of my home?

Yes and No. Roots are typically going to follow the path of least resistance and cause no harm to a well-maintained foundation (Notice in the picture above how the roots grew along the wall, not through – I’ve seen many large roots grow along house foundations with no issues whatsoever). On the other hand, if a foundation is not maintained, tree roots can penetrate and expand existing cracks, causing further damage to foundations.

What should I do with exposed roots?

Covering with 2-4 inches (Note: More is not better – do not exceed 4 inches) of organic mulch can be highly beneficial. This offers the roots insulation from temperature extremes and helps with water distribution and erosion. Additionally, this prevents mechanical damage from lawnmowers and string trimmers. However, avoid piling mulch too high on the trunk as this can cause decay and rot.

Will construction (i.e. building a patio, driveway, sidewalk, etc.) affect our trees?

If the construction process, including machinery access, is within the dripline of the tree(s), it is best to consult an arborist to discuss specifics and set up a Tree Protection Zone prior to construction, if necessary. Early prevention is the best method when it comes to construction processes.

While out of sight most of the time, it’s crucial to keep the roots top of mind all the time!