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Can Trees Damage Your Crawl Space?

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When you’re considering how best to protect your home from unexpected water or structural damage, you might not consider your trees a potential problem. Trees that are invasive or planted too close to your home can grow toward your crawl space and compromise your home’s structural supports.

How do trees do this kind of damage, and what steps can you take to prevent or react to the kind of problems they can cause?

Can Tree Roots Damage Your Crawl Space?

roots can damage crawl spaces

Trees are capable of compromising your crawl space’s structural integrity. That said, they’re not going to come at your structural supports in the way you might think. A tree’s root systems don’t physically attack your home. Instead, a tree’s root system will grow into the soil under or around your crawl space. In doing so, the roots will cause that soil to shift. Your concrete slabs or crawl space’s structural supports can sink into the soil gaps a tree’s root systems leave behind. That sinking or settling can cause cracks or leaks to spring up in your home.

If you don’t act quickly to repair or prevent that kind of damage, you may rapidly find yourself dealing with an excessive build-up of hydrostatic pressure. When that kind of pressure has the opportunity to act against your home, you may start to see damage that’s irreparable or that can reduce your home’s overall market value.

How to Protect Your Crawl Space

If you plan ahead and seek out professional help, you can prevent most of the damage that would befall your crawl space. When landscaping, try to:

  • Select your trees with care – Some types of trees need more room to grow than others. Do your research ahead of time and make sure you give all of your plants, not just the trees, the space they need to thrive without compromising your crawl space. You should try and keep even smaller plants at least five feet away from the perimeter of your home. Larger trees and hedges should be kept at a 20-foot distance or more.
  • Have your crawl space inspected on an annual basisCrawl space inspections let you get ahead of any damage that may befall your space. When you work with a crawl space professional, you can invite an inspector out to identify weak spots in your crawl space or existing damage. In doing so, you can act to protect your space and repair any cracks or leaks that may have sprung up with the changing of the seasons.
  • Waterproof your crawl space – It’s always a good idea to waterproof a new home with solutions like interior drainage, sump pumps, and dehumidifiers. When in doubt, try talking with a local crawl space professional about the encapsulation process with a vapor barrier and vent covers. Both vent covers and vapor barriers can keep water and gas out of your home, better protecting you from any potential breaches.

Which Trees Should You Avoid?

Careful landscaping means more than just ensuring your lawn looks as lovely as possible. There are some trees that are more likely to damage your crawl space than others, and you’ll want to write them out of your plans early in the landscaping process. Luckily, the trees that have more invasive root systems are advertised as such, making them easy to avoid.

Some of the trees that are the most likely to damage your crawl space with invasive root growth include:

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

Note that you don’t have to remove these types of trees from your yard on sight. You don’t even have to entirely write them out of your landscaping plans. You will want to keep them a minimum of 20 feet away from the perimeter of your home, if not more. These trees will get along with your crawl space best when they have the room they need to grow.

Want to talk to a professional about your landscaping ambitions? The crawl space, foundation, and basement repair contractors in St. Cloud, MN, can help you do what it takes to protect your crawl space and foundation. After a home inspection, they can provide you with a free quote on the waterproofing or foundation repair measures that may best suit your home.

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