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How Tree Roots Damage Concrete

tree roots

A big, attractive tree in the front yard is a dream for many. But the large, gorgeous tree and its roots may not have your best interests at heart. You may be surprised to see your tree’s roots spreading through and damaging your property’s concrete.

Here’s what you need to know about the trees and their roots surrounding your house.

Trees, Tree Roots, and Their Impact 

Whether you have lived in your home for years or if you are building your new home from the ground up, it’s important to pay close attention to the kind of trees you have around your house. You don’t want to create new difficulties when increasing the curb appeal of your home. That’s why, before you add trees, shrubs, or plants to your lawn, you should dig a little deeper into what’s on your property as well as the types of foliage available in the Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, and Savannah areas. 

The same principle holds true for all types of trees – for them to grow and flourish, their roots spread in search of nutrients. Trees take a long time to develop, yet their roots grow underground, hidden from view. This means they move through the soil, shifting it as they spread out. If this happens to be around concrete structures like your sidewalk, driveway, or even foundation, the shifting soil can lead to bigger problems. 

Trees with invasive root structures can cause foundation damage or break driveways and concrete walkways over time. Hardwood trees, such as oaks and elm trees, willows, honey locusts, and silver maples, are among the trees to avoid. It’s critical to choose the correct trees to avoid future root damage to your home. 

The Risks of Tree Roots Near Concrete 

Depending on the species of tree, its roots can do a real number on your concrete structures. If invasive tree roots are causing damage to your property, here are some signs to look out for: 

concrete crack

Concrete Cracks

When concrete slabs crack, there is usually a problem with the soil underneath. A nearby tree’s roots could be moving through the soil under and around the slabs, causing the soil to shift and move. If a concrete slab’s underlying soil is unstable and unable to support the concrete, the slab can show signs of damage in the form of various cracks and fissures. Sometimes, roots can even grow into and through these cracks. 

uneven concrete

Uneven Concrete

Along with cracking concrete slabs, the most telling sign of concrete damage is when slabs are not even with each other. Again, this is due to problematic, shifting soil underneath the slabs. And this can potentially be tied to trees with growing, aggressive root systems. If you notice uneven slabs, particularly in your sidewalk or driveway, it’s worth it to have them inspected by local concrete professionals to determine the cause and best repair moving forward. 

cracked and settling driveway concrete

Uneven Driveway and Sidewalk

Cracking and uneven concrete slabs can happen almost anywhere, but the most common and visible locations are driveways and sidewalks that have a series of concrete slabs together. Plus, many front sidewalks, walkways, and driveways may be near trees on the property. Tree roots, especially aggressively growing roots from certain species of trees, can run under and around the concrete and sidewalk slabs.  

Worried About Tree Root Damage to Your Concrete? Mount Valley Can Help! 

Concrete problems as the result of tree roots can be perplexing. But you don’t have to tackle them on your own. The best way to keep your concrete problems under control is to hire a local specialist to assist you. Mount Valley Foundation Services can help diagnose and repair your concrete issues with an innovative solution. Contact us today to schedule your free inspection and repair estimate! We have an A+ rating with the BBB, along with thousands of positive reviews from happy homeowners like you throughout Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, Savannah, and nearby.  


How far-reaching and aggressive a tree’s roots are depends on the species of tree. However, it’s a generally good rule of thumb to avoid planting trees too close to your home. The recommended spacing is usually about 15 to 20 feet. The same can be said for trees and other concrete structures like your driveway, sidewalk, patio, or pool deck. 

Proper placement (15 to 20 feet away from your home/concrete structures) is crucial, as is keeping the tree adequately watered. Tree removal is a more radical solution, and it’s one many homeowners don’t want to take because of the time invested in a tree and its appearance. While those methods will help prevent further damage, the best way to fix cracking, uneven concrete due to aggressive tree roots is through polyurethane foam injections. This non-invasive, long-lasting method lifts and stabilizes concrete to create a safer, more aesthetically pleasing property. 

As we’ve mentioned, certain tree species have more active root systems than others. While these roots will not directly assault your property, if you plant them too close to your concrete or foundation, they can create an issue. 

The following trees should be kept further away from your house or avoided altogether: 

  • American elms 
  • Willow trees 
  • Hybrid poplars 
  • Silver maples 

Fortunately, none of these trees belong to the same genus. That means that if you wish to plant a different type of elm or willow, for example, you can check with your local nursery to see whether a less invasive species is available. 

Michael Wilcher

Michael Wilcher

Michael Wilcher is the Content Lead at Groundworks, helping us to answer all of our customers biggest questions about foundation repair, basement waterproofing, crawl space encapsulation, and concrete lifting. In his free time, Michael enjoys collecting vinyl records, watching Formula 1 Racing, and reading philosophy. He holds an MPhil from the University of Cambridge.

Disclaimer: “Concrete leveling” means the process by which cracked, uneven concrete is stabilized, and in many cases lifted, by means of PolyRenewal™ polyurethane foam. Mount Valley Foundation Services does not guarantee that PolyRenewal™ can make your concrete perfectly level. 

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