When you buy a home, you want to make the yard look nice. Often, many homeowners want to put shrubs and trees around the home. Even though this looks nice, does it make sense? Can shrubs damage foundations? Yes, as the tree grows, the roots can grow into the plumbing system and the cracks in the house structure. Finding the right shrubs to plant is key. The last thing you want is to plant a garden and then the roots grow into the plumbing, costing you thousands of dollars.
Trees That Cause Damage to Plumbing
Shrubs and trees need water in order to grow. If there Is not enough water for them, the plant searches for more water and often this comes from the pipes or sewer system.
Here are some trees that cause damage to foundations and plumbing.
These are beautiful trees that look lovely in large gardens as they provide canopies and shade. However, their roots love water and are very thirsty, are fast growing and grows into plumbing systems. Planting them near the home is a bad idea. The tree can grow between 60 to 150 feet high, thus the roots grow from 160 to 450 feet from the base of the tree out into the yard. Many HOA’s ban this type of tree because of the root growth and damage they can cause.
Another type of plant is the birch tree. These are elegant looking, but grow about 40 to 50 feet high and the root system will grow two to three times the height of the tree! This tree requires a large area to grow, thus planting close to the home is not a good idea. This type of tree as well finds a way into the pipes and the roots can damage the pipes.
3 Citrus Trees
Many times you will see homeowners planting citrus trees in the back of the yard or along a fence line and away from the home. This is because the trees need sunlight, oxygen, nutrients, and moisture so they can grow. If the trees are too close to the house, they will grow into the structure and damage the house.
4 Oak Trees
This type of tree is known as some of the largest and sturdiest in the world. They take years to reach maturity and have a root system that is a slow grower. However, supplemental roots grow from the tree and often 100 yards out. Often, they also cause damage and potentially damage sewer and plumbing lines because of blockages.
Shrubs That Cause Plumbing Damage
Just like there are trees that cause plumbing and foundation damage, there are also shrubs that can cause damage to foundations.
1 Boxwood Shrub
This plant provides texture and color to a yard, as well as aesthetic value. Since it is large and the root structure is shallow, it can cause problems. Many people plant it near the home’s foundation but unfortunately, the root system of the shrub grows and it likes to find the leaks and cracks that are in the structure.
2 Holly Bushes and Shrubs
These types of plants are known as foundation plants as they are planted along the foundation. However, this is not a good idea. If the plant is not getting the nutrients and moisture it needs, the roots will find a way to get into the foundation. This can be through a crack or weak pipe and the shrubs can cause damage to the foundations.
3 Ivy Plants
Ivy cover the ground and referred to as ground plants. They are usually planted near homes and buildings and grow at a fast rate of speed. If it is not controlled, in four months time it may be three times its size! As it grows on the walls, it looks for holes and cracks and gets into the pipes. This is where it causes blockages and can damage the pipes around it. Many HOA’s don’t allow it because it can grow out of control and take over a neighbor’s property.
How Can I Prevent This
Knowing the trees, plants, and shrubs have roots, it is important to make sure you think about somethings before you start planting. You don’t want to damage the foundations, plumbing or sewer systems.
- First, make sure you are planting the plant far enough from the home so that the plants root system can grow and not damage the foundation, pipes, or sewer system.
- Locate the pipes and sewer systems so you know when you plant your shrubs, plants or trees that there is enough room for them to grow.
- The trees and plants should have good soil and provide enough sunlight, nutrients, and water so the roots don’t go looking for what it needs.
- Have the sewer system, foundations and pipes looked at so you know there are no cracks, joints that are weak or leaks so roots don’t find an entry way.
- Research plants, shrubs, and trees that don’t have invasive root systems so you can avoid issues with your house foundation, plumbing, and sewer systems.
Other Recommended Maintenance
When you are thinking about planting trees, shrubs, or plants in the yard, pay attention also to negative grading. The idea is for the yard to slope away from the home so that the water flows toward the street. Flowing towards the home is not a good idea and will cause flooding in your home. You can fix this often by adding in soil to make it level.
Another area to think about is the depth of the sewer lines. You want to know how deep these are buried so when you are adding in trees or doing other things to the yard, you don’t cut into them. Residential is usually 5-6 feet deep, while city lines are 12 feet deep.
If you are thinking about adding gravel in, landscape fabric might be an option for you. It is a good idea as it can help prevent weed growth, stabilize the soil, and create quality drainage.
Lastly, if you have a basement and are having problems with water in the basement, you may need a french drain. This is a pipe that takes the groundwater and the surface water and diverts it away from the home so you don’t have problems with water accumulating.
When to Call a Professional
Calling on a professional landscaper when you want to add plants, trees, or shrubs to your home may be needed if you are unsure of what you are doing. They can give you advice about where to plant so that the roots don’t grow into your foundation and sewer. They can also help you figure out which plants are best for where you live. This advice will save you a lot of money down the road. Also, remember to call on your local home inspection team for any questions about sewer and pipes.
Making the yard and garden look aesthetically pleasing, but also healthy is important to most homeowners. It may take some research to find out what will grow best next to the foundation of the home. Knowing where the sewer lines are, as well as the pipes and the plants that do and do not grow well next to the home are all important. Hiring your local home inspection team can help keep your yard looking beautiful and save you money. We can take a look at your landscaping layout around your foundation when conducting home inspections in the Castle Rock and Front Range areas.