Can Trees Damage Your Crawl Space?

damage due to trees and roots

The Midwest is home to a wide variety of plant life. When you’re choosing which trees to landscape your yard with, you’ll want to be careful. If you plant a tree too close to your home, its root systems can rapidly compromise the structural integrity of your crawl space.

What Can Tree Roots Do to Your Crawl Space?

A tree’s roots aren’t often considered to be a significant part of its bulk. This, unfortunately, is an oversight. A tree’s roots can grow to be nearly double the size of its canopy, stretching deep into the ground in search of nutrients.

It’s the trees with the most aggressive root systems that can spell trouble for your crawl space. While the roots themselves won’t physically attack your crawl space, they will move the soil around and beneath it. In shifting that soil, a tree’s roots can leave behind pockets of air for your foundation to sink into. That settlement can cause your crawl space to crack. Moisture can then get into your home through those cracks and further compromise the health of your home.

That said, it’s not all trees that can cause this kind of crawl space damage. Some trees, as mentioned, have more aggressive root systems than others. There are ways to keep a tree’s root systems from having this sort of impact on your home, but that process requires a lot of careful thought and willful flexibility.

How to Protect Your Crawl Space

If you want to keep your crawl space safe from a tree’s roots, where’s the best place to start? There are several steps you can take, and they’ll tend to work in your favor as long as you’re flexible and willing to make your crawl space’s safety a top priority.

If you want to protect your home from a tree’s aggressive root system, you’ll want to:

  • Research and select your trees carefully – Do your research before purchasing any saplings to better determine how much space your tree of choice needs to grow. If you’re looking at a larger tree, you can still include it in your yard. You’ll just want to take its spatial needs into account when determining where to plant it.
  • Create a perimeter – No matter what kind of tree you want to have in your yard, you’ll want to create a 20-foot perimeter between it and your home. With this perimeter in place, your tree can confidently grow without coming into contact with any of the structural supports beneath your crawl space or foundation.
  • Transplant your trees – If you’re moving onto a property that already has trees planted too close to your perimeter, talk to a local tree removal professional about having those trees transplanted. While you can have them removed altogether, transplanting allows you to retain the trees’ beauty while also protecting your crawl space.
  • Have your crawl space inspected annually – Crawl space inspections are relatively straightforward processes. When you commit to an annual inspection, you can develop a relationship with a local contractor while also staying on top of your crawl space’s condition. This way, you can react all the more quickly if a tree’s roots start to increase the amount of moisture in your home.
  • Waterproof your crawl space – When in doubt, it’s easiest to waterproof your crawl space with an interior drainage system, sump pump, vapor barrier, and dehumidifier before a problem can arise.

Trees to Avoid Planting Around Your Home

When you’re researching trees to plant around your yard, you’ll need to take species and size requirements into account. There are several trees that are known for their aggressive and invasive root systems. You’ll want to try and avoid planting the following anywhere near your home:

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

That said, you don’t have to keep these trees out of your yard entirely. You will, however, want to invest in waterproofing and foundation repair solutions to compensate for their presence if you do choose to have them close to your home.

Want to run your landscaping ideas by a professional? You can reach out to any of the foundation and crawl space repair contractors working in the Cleveland, OH, area. These contractors can inspect your home and landscaping plans. Afterward, they can let you know whether or not you’ve appropriately taken your crawl space’s safety into account with your ambitions. They can also provide you with a free quote on any repairs or installations you may need to better protect your home.