Skip to Main Content

Can Trees Damage Your Foundation?

Schedule Free Inspection
foundation damage from trees

The trees in your yard are more than just decorations or obstacles to maneuver around while you’re mowing. Trees that are planted too close to your home can cost you thousands of dollars in foundation damage.

There are steps you can take to prevent this kind of costly tree root damage. You can, at the same time, work to preserve the beauty of your yard. It’s just a matter of finding the balance between successful tree growth and a safe foundation.

Can Tree Roots Damage Your Foundation?

Tree roots are more expansive than you might think. On average, most trees’ root systems grow to the same size as their canopies, if not larger. If you’ve planted a tree too close to the perimeter of your home, you may rapidly find yourself dealing with unexpected root damage.

The term “root damage,” however, is a little misleading. Tree roots don’t actually dig into the materials that make up your foundation. Instead, they cause the soil around your home to shift as they grow. As your soil shifts, it will leave behind gaps that your foundation can begin to sink into. With that sinking and settlement comes an increased risk of cracks and water damage.

Protecting Your Home from Tree Roots 

You can take steps to keep tree roots from damaging your home. Some of the easiest ways to provide these trees with the room they need to grow and preserve your foundation include:

  • Choosing your trees wisely – If you have the opportunity to do so, you’ll need to talk to a representative at your local nursery about which trees may best suit your property. There are some trees and larger hedges that have more aggressive root systems than others. Ideally, you’ll want to avoid planting these species in your yard. Instead, you can work with a professional to pick out foliage that will suit your aesthetic ambitions without putting your foundation at risk. 
  • Transplanting larger trees – If there are already larger trees within 20 feet of your home’s perimeter, don’t panic. You can again work with the professionals in your area to transplant these trees or otherwise remove them from your property. Transplanting a tree will take a bit of time, and you’ll still need to kill off any root systems that remain after the transplant, but the work allows you to maintain the beauty of an existing tree. 
  • Testing the depth of your foundation – Older homes tend to have shallower foundations than newer homes, which puts them at greater risk for foundation damage. If you want to determine the depth of your foundation, you can reach out to a repair contractor working in your area for a home inspection. 
  • Waterproofing your foundation – Finally, it’s never a bad idea to invest in home waterproofing measures. While these measures won’t redirect roots away from your home, they can help compensate for the shifting soil near your foundation. This way, your foundation will be less likely to settle, and you can divert any hydrostatic pressure that might put your structural supports at risk.

Trees to Avoid Planting Near Your Yard

As mentioned, there are some types of trees that have more aggressive root systems than others. While again, these roots won’t directly attack your home, they can become a problem if you plant them too close to your foundation. 

Trees you’ll want to keep further away from your home or otherwise avoid planting altogether include: 

  • American elms 
  • Willow trees 
  • Hybrid poplars 
  • Silver maples 

Luckily, none of these trees share a genus. That means if you want to plant another type of elm or willow, for example, you can talk to representatives at your local nursery to see if a less invasive species is in stock. 

You will, however, want to plant all trees at least 20 feet away from the perimeter of your home, regardless of how invasive their root systems may be. This way, your trees will have the space they need to grow without disrupting the structure of the soil around your foundation. Are you worried that the trees in your yard may have triggered unwanted foundation damage? Don’t try to undertake that kind of maintenance on your own. Instead, you can reach out to the foundation and basement repair contractors working in your area for guidance. After a home inspection, these parties can provide you with a free quote on the services you may need to better maintain both your foundation and the trees in your yard.

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Mount Valley Service Map

Our Service Area


630 Ellis Street, Suite 2-B
Augusta, GA 30901


1850 Ashley River Rd
Charleston, SC 29407


2110 Commerce Drive
Cayce, SC 29033


300 South Ave
Spartanburg, SC 29306