Finding Your Roots

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
http://actvra.in/4hCC

Roots can be a problem.  As trees grow their roots grow too.  An arborist once told me that a tree's mass below can be twice as large as what you see above ground.  As roots grow they can do damage.

This tree was planted to frame off a drive way.

It was planted probably 40 years ago, when this house was first built.  It may be older and was saved.

This driveway has been recovered twice since it was built.  The street and curb have been replaced at least once.

The driveway and curb are damaged again.

Not doing justice, this photo does not show how high this bump in the driveway is, but it is about 10".  And the crack extends all the way across the driveway in two places.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On new construction I often see trees planted way too close to the house.

A tree that is placed too close to the house will soon become a problem.

They are small and cute when planted.  But trees have a way of growing and they grow quickly!

Often I will see a cherry blossom within 2' of the corner of the house! C'mon!

Now, I live in Washington DC and know just how big a cherry blossom tree can become!

Look at the damage a nearby tree can do to a house!  And in not much time!

Growing up we had a tree root come up through the floor drain into the laundry room!  That was a shock and it was not easy to remove!  And THAT tree wasn't close to the house.  But they can do special damage to plumbing drains.

More common is the damage done to structures - above and below ground.  Walls can be pushed in.  Windows damaged.  Roofs moved out of place.   Foundations can be bulged inward and slabs actually lifted up! 

Trees with aggressive root systems - maples, cherries, weeping willow, poplars, cottonwoods, aspens and elms - the so called "heavy feeders," will do damage.  Keep them 30' or more away from the house.  But remember, they will also do damage to sidewalks, curbs, streets and driveways too.  So pay attention when planting!

My recommendation:  When you buy a tree at the garden center ask about its recommended placement relative to the above.  Ask how aggressive the root systems will become.  And if you buy a house with plantings too close to anything, plan on having them moved elsewhere in the yard or removed completely.

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Re-Blogged 6 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Roy Kelley 12/01/2010 05:57 AM
  2. Sally K. & David L. Hanson 12/01/2010 06:45 AM
  3. Dawn Crawley 12/01/2010 12:03 PM
  4. Donald Bradbury 12/01/2010 10:14 PM
  5. Shirin Sarikhani 12/04/2010 12:55 PM
  6. Anne Hensel 12/05/2010 09:56 AM
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Show All Comments
Rainmaker
261,251
Dawn Crawley
Dawn Crawley Realty - Pinehurst, NC
Find Pinehurst Homes

Great information! I actually have a root growing into my gutter drain and cracking the driveway. They put the drive way right over the drain. I guess it wouldn't have been a problem if the root hadn't found the drain.

December 01, 2010 11:56 AM #37
Rainmaker
577,703
DeeDee Riley
Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA - El Dorado Hills, CA
Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas

This is a great one Jay!  I have taken many horticulture classes and can testify to the problems of choosing the wrong tree or plant!!  

December 01, 2010 12:01 PM #38
Rainer
77,709
Dee Bundy and Leslie Leis Northern Colorado Home Team
Fort Collins Realtor @ ERA Herman Group Real Estate NoCo - Fort Collins, CO

So true, Jay!  We recently had to take down the most beautiful, huge cottonwood that was a good 20' from our house because it had literally strangled more than half of our plumbing system and was causing foundation issues.  It is so very sad to see its stump where it once stood and our yard and home took a huge hit on curb appeal.  However, flushing the toilet and taking a shower are pretty tough to live without.

Great post.  I'll be sure to ask at my garden center before planting anything in our yard again!

December 01, 2010 12:50 PM #39
Rainmaker
138,689
Tre Pryor
REMAX Champions - Louisville, KY
Realtor, e-PRO - Louisville

Very good point and one I thought of as well a few months back. We plant our trees without the vision (or knowledge) of their eventual size. Generally speaking, plant EVERYthing farther away from the structure than you think you need to.

Either that or hire a professional, which I'll likely do next time.

December 01, 2010 01:17 PM #40
Rainmaker
468,241
Kenneth Cole
Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com... - Staten Island, NY
NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson

Good day Jay;  Excellent post.  Most of us don't about "when the tree is full grown".  Thanks.

December 01, 2010 02:13 PM #41
Rainmaker
179,204
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

Makes cutting grass a chore too Jay.  If it was up to the maple and elm I have in the front yard there would be no grass at all.  Wait, that may not be a bad idea.

 

December 01, 2010 02:15 PM #42
Rainer
104,062
Troy Pappas
Safe House Property Inspections - Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach Home Inspector

Last year during one our Noreasters a friends neighbor had the tree in the backyard blown over. Well, when the tree went over the root system tore right though the foundation of the home.

December 01, 2010 04:18 PM #43
Rainmaker
627,653
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector
I see in one of your comments that you say you grew up in Kensington. My hometown is Kensington, CT. As for the trees I have removed several large trees that were close to my house when I bought it.
December 01, 2010 06:58 PM #46
Rainmaker
1,219,267
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Bob - the oak tree has a large, but mostly tap, root system.  So it doesn't spread out to do as much damage as the heavier feeders with the more aggressive side root systems.  Good it did no damage!

Kathryn - methinks someone did not know there was a septic tank there!  Or thought to hide it!

Michael - that's what they do.  Nothing can grow near those trees.

Don - the roots will go toward where the water is most prevalent.  I have never seen one cry though...

 

December 01, 2010 07:08 PM #47
Rainmaker
1,219,267
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Valerie - every time I buy something at the garden center, I get advice on how and where to plant it.  You're right, you will never win!

Gotta think ahead John!  In econ too... it's a system!

Margaret - where you been?  I did not know that a tree's roots can be a problem after the tree is excised!  They continue to grow?  Who knew?

Wende - that or the 50 foot rule.  Which ever applies as needed.

December 01, 2010 07:11 PM #48
Rainmaker
1,219,267
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Charlie - I have seen tree roots pick up a slab home!  Like the bumper stickers say, "Root happens."  Or something like that...

Sam - look at all the tree roots they have cut out in the past!

Loren - yikes!  That is an aggressive root!

Or food for the root Richie?  Let's not think that...

December 01, 2010 07:14 PM #49
Rainmaker
1,219,267
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Justin - I think the supervisor says to plant the tree in the front left or right side and someone who knows nothing about planting trees does so!  And where ever!

Peggy - exactly right.  Don't plant trees with large roots anywhere near septic systems!

Brian - those are big culprits of damage, or so I read!

Dawn - I see driveways over drains all the time and think what a problem that might be one day!  Sorry you are experiencing it!

December 01, 2010 07:17 PM #50
Rainmaker
1,219,267
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

DeeDee - wow, good that you are taking classes!  Did this one ruin your page too?

Dee - what's the chance of having a DeeDee and a Dee back to back?  That was better removed sooner than later!

Tre - I usually plant my own, but ask the professional first about the how's.

Ken - well, you have to!  If you don't plan ahead, the tree will!

December 01, 2010 07:19 PM #51
Rainmaker
1,219,267
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Now you're thinking ahead Jack!  How about a couple for Izzy and Mickey in the back too!

Troy - wow, weight works!  That must have been a fun insurance claim.

Jim - so, we connect again!  I was my first 12 years in DC and 12 until college in Kensington.  Better to remove those big guys before they hit hard.  And one day they will.

December 01, 2010 07:22 PM #52
Rainmaker
229,481
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis Home Inspections

When I see trees right next to the house, I always think to myself "Who the heck could have possibly thought that this was a good idea?"  

December 02, 2010 06:41 AM #53
Rainmaker
1,219,267
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Then, Reuben, you must be thinking that a lot!

December 02, 2010 06:49 AM #54
Rainmaker
116,020
Jason Burkholder
Weichert, Realtors - Engle and Hambright - Lancaster, PA
Sales Manager, Assoc. Broker, Realtor, e-Pro

Great post, people give little thought to how big that tiny tree will be in 20 years

December 02, 2010 09:00 AM #55
Rainmaker
1,219,267
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

You got that right Jason!  But it has to be dealt with, whether you care at the outset or not.

December 02, 2010 09:45 AM #56
Rainmaker
496,752
Kevin J. May
Hobe Sound, FL

We have a very stubborn rubber tree that refuses to give up.  They grow fast & furious here.  Thanks Jay!

December 06, 2010 11:58 PM #57
Rainmaker
1,219,267
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Kevin - I have never seen a rubber tree live and in person!  That I know of anyway.  If they have stubborn roots you have little choice but to minimize their damage by removing them, or the tree!

December 07, 2010 03:53 AM #58
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
1,219,267

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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