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I have a very tall pine tree in front of my house. I am about to start work digging up my downstairs floor and re-doing it. I'm just wandering if before I start I should look further into the roots of my pine tree, because it is very close to the house, in case they will soon become a problem. Has anyone else had a problem with a pine tree wrapping its roots around their houses' foundations? Or (I'm very new to this as you may tell) are they the type to grow around obstacles?

The last thing I want to do is take down this beautiful tree, which is why I am trying to find out about it now. I would like to keep the tree and my house in one piece for as long as possible.

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New research tools have allowed arborists to learn more about tree roots.

  • Tree roots can extend as far as two or three times the width of the drip line, or the farthest point from the tree where foliage grows.
  • Pine trees are not known for having invasive root systems but if the soil is dry roots will go where the water is.
  • Most roots grow within the top foot (30 cm) of the surface.
  • "Trunk diameter is about as good as it gets for estimating root spread of unobstructed trees. For young trees [less than approximately 8 in (20 cm) in diameter], the ratio of root radius to trunk diameter in the documented studies was about 38 to 1"
  • this can change for different soil types, compacted soil, mature trees, palm trees

The only way to be sure is to test and discover more yourself with these methods:

  • if you have downspouts redirect the water far away your foundation. Dumping it two or three feet from your foundation just encourages roots to go get the water. Redirect the water as far away as you can using four inch PVC pipe or, my favorite, four inch perforated drain pipe with a sleeve.
  • given that roots are close to the surface investigate with a spade. Dig a slit trench six inches deep between your foundation and the tree and see if there are roots present. If there are you can put a physical barrier between the tree and the foundation. I found that EPDM pool liner provides an inert barrier that does not degrade and will prevent roots from passing through it.

All tree roots will grow towards water. How far they go and how deep depends on the type of soil. Where I live white pine trees can get 100 feet tall with roots only going twenty feet out. The best way is to investigate with some slit trenches in areas where you are concerned roots could be.

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thanks a lot, this is very helpful. my soil is very moist as i have 2 wells at the bottom of my garden where as the house is at the top of the small hill. is it usual for the roots to grow down hill towards water like the ones you see by a river? if so then i dont think i have anything to worry about. – keeley Feb 4 '13 at 11:49

The rental house next door had a very tall pine tree until last Saturday when we had a big storm. It came down & took out all the wiring & part of a neighbors house. The root ball was large and compact because of the drought. Our winds are from the southwest. It's your call, but if it were me, I'd take it out.

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I'm not sure this answers the question. Can you tell us more about the type of soil, type of pine, where you live... – kevinsky Sep 8 '15 at 22:25

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