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Tree roots and slab foundation

Discussion in 'Homeowner Helper Forum' started by dianmccall, Apr 16, 2013.

  1. dianmccall

    dianmccall New Member

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    Are the branches of a large live oak tree indicative of the spread of the roots? Will cutting the branches stop the growth of the roots? My neighbor is worried that branches of my tree over her driveway mean the roots will damage her slab, and that cutting the branches will cause the roots to stop growing. Is that reasonable?
     
  2. imagineero

    imagineero Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Reading roots is an artform, but you can get some clues from the form of the trunk where it buttresses, and bulges in the ground. Further clues from the shape of the canopy. As a general rule of thumb, primary roots (the big ones) will usually extend out to the drip zone (the limits of the branches) though it can be further with some species, but rarely less. Taller narrow trees like poplars for example, will extend out beyond the drip zone, but for most spreading canopy trees expecting primaries out to the drip zone is a fair rule. Secondary roots can extend out up to 10x the drip zone, but are unlikely to do anything or even be noticeable.

    The question of whether cutting branches back will prevent root grown is an interesting one, and my best guess would be that it probably does, but not to the extent that you're hoping. Restricting root growth does seriously prevent tree growth though. You can't just go hacking away at roots at this late stage in the game, they're holding the tree up. You will get much better advice with pics.

    Shaun
     
  3. HuskStihl

    HuskStihl Chairin'em for the sound

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    I spent an embarassing amount of money to figure out the exact opposite problem. Where to put the slab for my house so as not to hurt a beautiful live oak I wanted to preserve. Same advice as from Shaun, don't mess within the drip line. The confusing thing about live oaks is how far some of the branches extend out. My tree is allegedly 500 years old, and some of the branches are out 40+ feet from the trunk making the dripline hard to read. I wound up putting the slab just outside the dripline, and the tree has continued to grow in the direction of the slab even though the roots probably cannot be growing in that direction. No discernable slab problems in 5 years however. I like live oaks and would personally not want to damage one of mine out of concern for a neighbor's slab, which I think may be overstated, but life often is not fair!
     
  4. Woody912

    Woody912 ArboristSite Operative

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    Assuming no buried utilities, I would think running a trencher would both give you an answer and a reprieve to the problem. Probably will not help the tree but assuming it is healthy I would think it would live. Then do it again about every 3-4 yrs or pour a will 2' deep????????
     

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