Cap Your Tree's Roots Or Remove The Tree?

Sometimes, it is not clear if the best route is to remove a tree or to install a tree barrier. Tree removal is intensive work and can involve digging up an extensive root system. Installing a tree barrier can also take a lot of effort and may have implications on the water retention of the soil. So which is best? The answer, it turns out, is "it depends". 

What a Root Barrier Can Do

A root barrier is good for stopping large and small roots only if it is properly installed and the tree is not of a type that can go below the depth of a typical root barrier.  Typically, a root barrier is installed with the following criteria:

  • Minimum of 30 inches of depth: the 30 inches is so roots cannot go under the barrier, but the depth can be deeper based upon the size of the trees being blocked
  • Impermeable barrier:  this is so moisture is retained on the side away from the structure and also to keep large roots from removing moisture from soil near the foundation even though they are capped
  • Expansive clay soil: the clay soil is important because it keeps roots from pulling the moisture from around the foundation and causing damage to the building's structure
  • Slightly above the ground's surface: the root barrier should be above the ground so that roots cannot go over the barrier

Some types of trees, such as pecan trees, can go below a root barrier and still impact the foundation of a structure. A root barrier will stop some of the roots but may not provide all of the protection that you would expect.

What Removing the Tree Can Do

If you have trees that are very close to the foundation of a structure, are overhanging a structure, are diseased or potentially diseased, or are a type of tree that can make it around a root barrier, then removing the tree is a viable option. Removing the tree makes it so that tree can't grow into the foundation or cause foundation issues.

You have to plan for the tree removal because sometimes removing a tree can cause eventual structural damage as well. After some trees are removed, the soil can retain extra moisture that the tree would normally have absorbed. This can cause the soil to swell and, if a structure is built over it too soon, the swelling can cause damage to a foundation.

It comes down to what is the right solution for the type of tree surrounding your structure and what you are trying to accomplish. Root capping can allow you to keep the trees in place but may not prevent all damage. Tree removal can prevent damage, but if building is done too soon after the removal, you may incur some structural damage after the fact.

For more information, contact Edmonds Tree Service or a similar company.