Tree with rootsEveryone knows that roots are an essential part of tree care and health. Roots provide nutrients, and moisture that help any tree or plant thrive. Depending upon the type of soil, roots will spread and grow as far as is necessary to provide sustenance, but most of the roots are not much more than 2 feet under the surface. In sandy soil, like what you would find on the Outer Banks, or any other beachfront location, the roots go a little deeper. This accounts for the volatile weather that is experienced in these locations. With all that roots do to allow trees to flourish, why do they get blamed for so much damage?

Tree roots have been blamed for everything from breaking underground pipes, to damaging the foundation of houses, and everything in between. Let’s examine some of these misconceptions, and see if we can clear the good name of tree roots.

Foundation Damage

Any tree care specialist has heard this one a hundred times: “The tree was planted too close to the house and damaged the foundation.” This is very seldom the case. While some roots do go deeper and wider if allowed to extend that far, it is very difficult, if not impossible for a root to cause structural damage to a concrete or wood foundation. There are cases when there are cracks or fissures in the foundation that the roots will inevitably find, but in most cases, the foundation is to blame, not the roots.

Damaged Sewer Pipes

Another common fallacy is that tree roots have damaged or broken underground sewer pipes. Has a root ever caused this damage? Probably, but the overwhelming majority of these cases involve old and/or previously damaged pipes, that the roots encounter. In their search for moisture and nutrients, tree roots will quickly seek the nutrient rich, fertilized soil. After receiving the nutrients, the roots will grow quickly, which makes it look as if they are to blame for the mess, but they have seldom caused the damage.

There is no shortage of things that tree roots get blamed for. In actuality, they are benign and friendly vessels. They are simply seeking the nutrients and moisture that your tree or plant needs to survive. If you have questions about the health or status of your tree, reach out to a tree care specialist. Here’s to hoping that those pesky tree roots don’t damage your property this yea