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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.

  • 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
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I am a certified home inspector, Mr Home Check, and former Realtor.

There is no need to cut down the tree until you see where the root system actually is. It has been there for quite some time and will not do anything immediately different than it is currently doing.

Contact a local tree company and ask them about the individual tree. and go from there. I inspect several homes a month with trees growing a few feet from the home with no cracking or damage to the foundation, and others where trees 15 feet away are destroying the foundation. It really is on a case by case basis.

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The roots of the pine trees in my yard have grown on top of the surface and caused a crack in the side of my house. Pine trees cause lots of problems. Cut the pine tree down would be your best alternative in preserving your property.

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Call an inspector. Our house in NY the pine trees are beautiful and they are no problem maybe because they were afraid of the oak trees. Well Georgia here we come for the winter and planted pine trees for holiday lights to remind us of home. Needless to say after about 5 years the pear trees and magnolias began to sag. The pine trees in the front roots were as big as the tree (small tree) and wrapped itself around the house. The other has dug under the house. Trees have been removed most of the roots are gone. Its going to cost 3,000 to remove the roots 7,000 to reinforce the foundation thats because I have no concrete to remove and I get a deal due to claims I filed for damages from 3 hurricanrs. Who has that kind of money.

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