How To Combat Tree Root Damage?

If you have trees on or near your property, their roots can sometimes cause damage by growing into areas you don’t want them. Tree roots seek nutrients and water, so they will find their way under patios, driveways, sidewalks, sewer lines, and building foundations if given the chance. This not only damages these structures but provides entry points for insects and moisture that can lead to further issues. As per experts like The Relining Company, while tree root damage is usually unintentional on the tree’s part, it still needs to be dealt with to protect your property. Removing the tree altogether is often an overly aggressive solution, so it’s best to explore some preventative and mitigation options first. Here are several ways on how to combat tree root damage. 

Plant Trees in the Right Place

Ideally, trees should be planted far away from any structures, utilities, pavements, or infrastructure. This gives the roots ample room to spread without interfering with anything man-made. For example, large trees should be planted at least 15 feet away from buildings, while smaller ornamental trees need a minimum of 5 feet. Always check the expected height and root spread before planting any trees and allow adequate space.

Install Root Barriers 

Vertical root barriers placed 2-3 feet deep around foundations, sewer mains, and other vulnerable areas can deflect tree roots down and away. These are tough panels made of plastic or metal that guide invasive roots away. Root barriers need to be welded or overlapped so there are no gaps where stubborn roots can sneak through. These should be installed before planting any new trees nearby structures.

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Use Coverings and Membranes

To protect surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, and basement walls, you can cover them in puncture-resistant material. Rigid foam insulation panels, rubber roof membranes, or thick polymer sheeting can create an impenetrable surface that keeps roots out. Just be sure to weigh down these coverings well so they don’t shift and expose any edges for roots to penetrate. 

Amend Surrounding Soil  

One trick to discouraging tree roots from spreading into certain areas is amending the soil to make it less hospitable. Mixing gravel into the soil along foundations and under pavements creates an inorganic composition. Roots don’t like spreading here as much as nice rich organic soil. Just be careful not to damage roots of existing nearby trees in the process.

Control Surrounding Moisture

Making sure the area protected from root damage does not collect or emit any moisture will also discourage root growth. Fix leaky pipes, grade soil to promote water runoff, and cover dirt patches with organic mulch to retain local moisture so roots won’t seek it elsewhere. Limit watering close to the building and structures you want to protect from invasive roots.

Sever Problem Roots

For existing root intrusions, carefully digging to expose the offending roots and cutting them back can provide relief. However, this is only a temporary solution in most cases. The roots will keep growing back unless the environment makes conditions unfavorable, so this should be combined with moisture control, root barriers, etc. Never randomly cut a tree’s main structural roots or you risk destabilizing the entire tree.

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Remove Problematic Trees

In severe repeat cases of destructive roots causing irreparable damage, there may be no choice but to remove the invasive tree altogether. First explore mitigation options, but for certain high-risk trees causing foundation lifting, sewer backups, or cracked driveways, removal may be the only permanent solution. Replace with a more appropriate small tree species suited to the location. 


Seeking professional assistance from an arborist or foundation repair specialist is wise when dealing with extensive root damage. They can assess risks, limitations, and offer site-specific solutions tailored to the offending trees and property under siege. Implement preventative root barriers early on, and regularly inspect for minor root intrusions to stay ahead of the game. With vigilant management and proactive measures, tree root damage can be mitigated without sacrificing the trees themselves in most landscape settings.

Protect your property without waging war on surrounding trees by understanding some key root deterrent options. Stay observant, act early, and give those roots somewhere else productive to grow! With smart prevention and redirection methods, you can have both intact infrastructure and thriving trees on your property.