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An irrigation company, in order to get to a sprinkler head and pipe, grinded several roots from my neighbors oak tree. The tree is at least 6' around at the base and the trunk divides into three trunks and one of those again into another. It is on a hill and leans slightly towards my home. The repair was done two feet away from the trunk. All roots were removed 12" to 15"s down and approximately 40"s wide. I am worried that this tree has been damaged as well as compromised and might fall on my home in a storm.

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    Joanne, welcome! This is a post with a lot of good details, something we simply love here. But I'm missing an important thing: What exactly is your question? Could you clarify and edit, please? I see you have already taken the tour, but did you visit our help center? An excellent place for learning more about how this site works. Looking forward to more contributions from you! – Stephie Apr 7 '16 at 15:31
  • That kind of damage could prove fatal to a portion of the tree. Only an on site arborist can assess if it could damage your house. – kevinsky Apr 7 '16 at 16:21
  • Will removing the roots 12" deep and 40"s wide three feet from the trunk harm this tree or cause it to eventually die? This tree is leaning towards my house. The roots removed were from the high side, the opposite side of the lean. In a storm or worse hurricane I worry about it hitting my house. – J mayer Apr 8 '16 at 20:17
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You don't say what part of the world you're in, and that makes a difference to legal procedures, but if the tree is close enough to damage your house should it fall, here in the UK, I'd advise my buildings insurance company of what's happened, and hopefully, they'd either arrange for a Tree surgeon to attend and assess the situation, or pay for a tree surgeon to come out and assess. If it is considered a danger, the insurance company will then take steps by approaching the neighbour and have the tree removed or whatever is the right thing to do depending on the Tree Surgeon's advice.

It sounds as if they removed a significant amount of root material, including some large roots, and that is, as you fear, very likely to compromise the tree.

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  • At very least you should notify some external parties (your insurer is a good one, depending on how friendly you are with the neighbour, a letter raising your concern (and you keep a dated copy) may help you in future. – davidgo Apr 8 '16 at 19:42
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As a rule of thumb, you should not prune the roots of a mature tree closer then 3 times the diameter I.e. 6 feet in this instance, and you should not prune any roots when the tree is on a lean.

So, it seems you need an arborist to come and inspect the damage.

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