Trees can exist as a beautiful complement to just about any property. Large trees, especially, with their majestic height, broad canopies, and lush vegetation, can actually increase a property’s value by a significant margin. Unfortunately, trees do not come without some issues. As they age or become diseased, for example, you may need to consider the risk they present if high winds were to knock them down. Questing tree roots can also become a serious problem. A tree’s roots will expand outwards in search of moisture. This can create a problem with plumbing, as the tree roots will actually penetrate and either clog or break your pipes. Tree roots can also spell trouble for foundations. To prevent this and check the growth of tree roots, consider the installation of a root barrier.
A root barrier represents one solution to check the expansion of tree roots. Root barriers can become especially necessary in areas with expansive clay soil. In wet periods, this soil will absorb moisture and expand. Throughout dry spells, the soil will lose moisture and contract. When this occurs around a concrete slab foundation, some moisture will remain trapped beneath the house. Any nearby trees will send their roots after this moisture, a situation that can lead to serious foundation issues. Central Texas is particularly prone to this issue. To prevent serious problems with your foundation, a root barrier represents a possible solution. If you do find yourself in need of slab foundation repair in Burleson and Fort Worth, TX, you can count on the professionals at Solid Rock Foundation Repair.
Root Barrier for Trees
A tree root barrier blocks the growth of tree roots toward a home. First, a trench is dug at least 30 inches into the ground between the tree roots and the home. A material that’s impenetrable and impermeable fills the trench to block the tree roots, and is covered with the original soil. If the roots have already traveled beneath the foundation, they get pruned back beyond the trench. In this way, a root barrier can serve as both a preventative measure, and as a solution. If tree roots have already made the soil uneven, it will re-level as it regains its normal moisture content. This can help repair foundation damage that has already occurred. If you attempt to re-level a foundation without first dealing with the roots, you will simply waste your effort and time.
Root Barrier Effectiveness
The question of root barrier effectiveness is a serious one. Incorrectly installed root barriers can hamper a tree’s growth, and even kill it. At the same time, if a root barrier does not extend across a broad enough area, the roots will simply grow around it. A root barrier should also extend above the level of the soil. If it doesn’t, roots can actually grow up and over it, and back down again into the ground. You should also never install a barrier if the tree has existed for longer than the house. In this situation, the soil has already adjusted to the presence of the tree roots, and so will not become uneven and threaten a foundation. A root barrier is ideally employed to turn back and check the growth of tree roots that have already damaged a foundation.
Root Barrier Types
There exist two principal types of root barriers: permeable and impermeable.
Impermeable Barriers: Made from fiberglass, metal, or plastic, these provide an excellent barrier to the passage of tree roots. Unfortunately, they can inhibit the proper drainage of moisture, and often do not cover enough ground to stop the travel of tree roots around them.
Permeable Barriers: These employ a mesh screen that stops larger roots, but allows water and small roots to pass through. These barriers can work, but generally cannot achieve the effectiveness of an impermeable alternative.
Ideally, a root barrier should involve the use of an impermeable material treated with a chemical to inhibit root growth. In this way, you can rest assured that the roots will neither pass through nor grow around your barrier.
Root Barrier Ideas
Tree roots aside, the concept of a root barrier can also work with other problematic plants. If you want to control the growth or root system of any type plant, consider these root barrier ideas for different types of plants.
- Bamboo and Rhizome Roots: For root systems like bamboo that do not grow deep into the earth, you can simply shove a piece of 12-inch flashing down into the ground.
- Small Root Systems and Ground Cover: For an effective root barrier to these types of plants, simply keep them contained in a pot. Dig a hole, bury the pot, and cover it with mulch.
You can also create do-it-yourself root barriers with different types of materials, including:
- Metal Flashing
- Plastic Sheeting
Root Barrier FAQ
How Do You Stop Tree Roots?
There are only three ways to control and stop tree roots.
- Regular Pruning
- Root Barrier
- Kill the Tree
Pruning tree roots on a regular basis is extremely labor-intensive, and requires a serious commitment. Because of this, root barriers and killing the tree exist as the only options practical for most people.
Do Root Barriers Work?
If installed properly across a broad enough area, impermeable root barriers treated with a growth-inhibiting chemical can effectively stop the spread of tree roots.
How Deep Should a Root Barrier Be?
A root barrier must extend deeply enough into the soil to prevent tree roots from extending beneath it. For most trees, this depth extends to at least 30 inches.
How Far Do Tree Roots Go Down?
Tree roots typically grow horizontally, not vertically. In other words, they travel outward, not deeper into the soil, in search of water. Most urban trees will not have roots deeper than a few feet. For a root barrier, 30 to 60 inches should prove sufficient.
How Do You Get Rid of Tree Roots Naturally?
To get rid of roots naturally and not kill the tree, you must dig a trench and manually cut them back. If you feel okay with the death of the tree, you must first cut it down. From there, bore holes into the stump, one in each corner, and fill the holes with a mixture of water and Epsom salt. Next, dig around the stump as deeply as you can, and pour the salt mixture over the roots. The salt will absorb the remaining moisture inside the roots and stump, and ensure that the roots do not continue their growth.
Root barriers present an excellent strategy to employ in certain scenarios, and an excellent alternative to the destruction of a tree. If you’re having any problems with a tree, trust local professionals for Fort Worth, TX tree care. Regardless of your situation, it’s likely that a mutually beneficial solution exists for both your home and the tree.