Installing a Root Barrier

two trees with exposed roots

Stop Damaging Roots

Many home buyers prefer an older home in an older neighborhood. The houses aren’t cookie-cutter style, and the lawns are established, including older trees. And it is those older trees that can cause big foundation and plumbing problems. Does this mean you need to have all the trees cut down and removed? Absolutely not! It may be possible to have a root barrier installed to stop those issues. 

What does a root barrier look like?

A root barrier must be able to withstand the pressure of being deep in the soil and stand up to active tree roots. This requires they be made with impermeable and durable materials, usually buried at a depth of thirty inches or more. 

A root barrier should be extended above the soil surface to keep tree roots from growing over the barrier as well. The materials a root barrier is made of will accept and maintain a level of moisture, so the tree gets water but it is durable against tree roots growing through the barrier. 

Will removing surface roots kill a tree?

It could if it is a main root and cut too close to the tree. If the removal of large tree roots doesn’t kill it right away, it will create an unhealthy tree that will become unstable over time. This could create problems with the tree falling onto a structure or vehicle. The tree roots close to or fused to the tree trunk are critical to the health and structure of the tree. 

Which is better, a root barrier vs tree removal? 

The purpose of a root barrier is to limit the root system of a tree. It keeps the roots from spreading out and can be done for several reasons. Root barriers are installed to protect a home’s foundation and plumbing, to protect a driveway or sidewalk from root upheaval, and to eliminate the need for tree root pruning, which is an expensive and time-consuming job. 

Tree removal is not always an effective solution for the problems that tree roots can cause. Even once the tree is removed, if the tree roots are left, they keep growing and seeking water, which leads them to the plumbing.

With a root barrier, you can still have the benefits and beauty of a tree with the assurance that the tree roots are not able to reach the foundation, plumbing, driveway, or walkways. 

Does a root barrier work?

A root barrier built into the ground and around the tree will protect a foundation, gas and water lines from tree roots disturbing them, or even busting them. The root barrier simply redirects the tree roots where they can keep growing and providing the tree nutrients and water. There are different root barrier types available for assorted reasons. 

Chemically Treated Soil Root Barrier: Lasts for five years and will need to be reapplied to maintain the root barrier existence. This root barrier will stop the tree root growth totally when the root reaches the chemical. This is the most commonly used root barrier behind retaining walls.

Mechanical Treatment Root Barrier: Has an indefinite lifespan and is made using one of three different materials:

  • Concrete
  • Sheet Metal
  • Plastic Membrane

The mechanical treatment root barrier stops the tree roots from seeing any further growth and redirects the roots away from the foundation, gas, or water lines. This is the most commonly used root barrier for foundations and is most popular because the home still receives the benefits of shade and the beauty of the tree. 

What is the best root barrier?

The mechanical root barrier as described above is best for foundations, gas, and water lines around homes. They are typically deeper, which makes them the more effective type, and they also last longer. They are usually buried no less than 30 inches, with most buried 36 to 48 inches deep

What is a good root barrier?

A mechanical root barrier is the best, as we just mentioned. A chemical root barrier has to be reapplied every five years to maintain its effectiveness. With those two facts in mind, a good root barrier would be a mechanical style that is made from durable and impermeable materials. The durability helps keep the roots redirected, yet being impermeable, water still gets to the roots to keep the tree nourished. 

tree with exposed roots

Closing Thoughts

While trees add beauty to a home or any structure, they can be destructive to the foundation, gas, and plumbing lines. The roots cause driveways, sidewalks, streets, and walkways to crack and upheave, making it dangerous to walk over and causing wear and tear on a car’s front end and tires. 

With a chemical root barrier or mechanical root barrier, we are able to keep the trees and enjoy the benefits and beauty. The destruction they can cause is eliminated, which while the root barrier installation can be costly, it is a money saver with the destruction that tree roots can cause.