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Can Trees Damage Your Crawl Space?

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Whether you’re using your crawl space for storage or utilities, you’ll want to do what you can to keep it dry and stable. Unfortunately, if you’ve planted trees too close to the perimeter of your home, you’re at risk for root-related crawl space cracks and damage.

It’s best to try and get ahead of this damage – but what can tree roots do to your crawl space?

Can Tree Roots Damage Your Crawl Space?

Tree roots can damage your crawl space – but not in the way you’re likely to imagine. A tree’s roots can grow to be wider spread than their canopy. If you plant a tree too close to your home, that tree’s roots may eventually bump up against your crawl space or foundation. Even in this case, the roots of a tree aren’t necessarily growing into your crawl space. Instead, they cause the soil around and beneath your crawl space to shift. In doing so, they allow water to travel into or up against your crawl space more easily. They’ll also create gaps in the soil beneath your crawl space, allowing a concrete slab or other structural support to sink or settle and allow for future leaks.

You always need to try and get ahead of this kind of root damage. If you don’t, your crawl space can fall victim to irreparable damage that’ll lower your quality of life and decrease your home’s market value.

How to Protect Your Crawl Space

If you want to get ahead and care for your crawl space before a tree’s roots can damage your supports, you’re in luck. There are several steps you can take to better protect your crawl space, including:

  • Selecting your trees with care – Not all trees grow at the same rate. Some will grow broader root systems than others. Similarly, some trees grow significantly faster than others. When you’re developing your landscaping shopping list, you’ll want to plan to keep trees that grow more quickly and with larger root systems farther away from your home.
  • Planting larger trees at least 20 feet away from your home – Speaking of which, you’ll want to keep all species of trees at least 20 feet away from the perimeter of your home. With that amount of space, most trees with established root systems won’t disrupt your crawl space. The same practice can also apply to smaller plants and hedges. When you keep these plants at least five feet away from your perimeter, you allow them to form a natural waterproofing barrier while also keeping them from coming into contact with the soil beneath or surrounding your crawl space.
  • Having your crawl space inspected on an annual basis – Try and have your crawl space inspected by a professional at least once a year. When you invite an inspector into your home, you can get ahead of any damage while also making sure your home is up to code.
  • Waterproofing your crawl space – Finally, it’s never a bad idea to waterproof your crawl space before damage can set in. Talk to a contractor working in your area about encapsulation with a vapor barrier, among the other waterproofing solutions like drainage and sump pumps available to you.

Which Trees Should You Avoid?

As mentioned, some species of trees are more invasive or aggressive growers than others. While you’re writing up your landscaping wish list, you’ll want to do what you can to avoid bringing these trees into your yard.

Some of the trees with the most aggressive root systems include:

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

Note that just because they’re aggressive doesn’t mean you have to eliminate them from your landscaping ambitions entirely. You don’t even have to move trees of these species from your yard. You will, however, want to make sure that there’s a minimum of 20 feet between the perimeter of your home and these trees’ trunks when you settle down. Without that space to grow, these trees will start to bump up against your crawl space.

You don’t have to take on the job of protecting your crawl space alone. Contact Alpha Foundations to inspect your crawl space and let you know if you’re dealing with any pre-existing damage. They can also come in and help you overcome any leaks. You’ll benefit from this professional eye and from a free quote on any services you may need to restore your quality of life.

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