From:Austin, TX Region: Southwest Topic: Trees Title: Live oak roots and house foundation in Austin Answered by: Barbara Medford
Our builder left a live oak on our lot that is 7' from our foundation. The tree is now around 18' tall with a 20" circumference. Will this tree eventually cause damage to our foundation and is there some way to prune a live oak to make the tree grow away from our roof?
While it is certainly true that tree roots can grow up to three times the spread of a tree, the problem in foundations, especially in our very dry climate, is soil subsidence. The tree root does its part on this by looking for water and sucking it up, but the very dry soil is probably going to drop and shrink anyway, and that is much more likely to cause the foundation damage then the tree roots. That having been said, 7' is still pretty close to a house for a tree that will grow as big as a live oak, and not just because of the roots. There is really no way to tell a live oak to grow in another direction, and the branches against your roof can definitely cause problems. Insects, not to mention squirrels and raccoons, consider tree branches against a house as an open invitation to come in, have a bite to eat, and spend the winter. Certainly a trained arborist could prune the branches away from the house, but when you prune a plant, where does the new growth appear? Right, it appears in the area you pruned. And you surely don't want to be pruning now, as the Nitiludid beetle is most active in this area from now until May or June. That pesky bug also considers newly cut or damaged tree trunks or branches as an invitation. And, in that case, this often results in the spread of Oak Wilt disease, which has no known cure but prevention. We can't really recommend one way or the other on removing the tree (we assume you choose the house over the tree?) but you should certainly get the opinion of the aforementioned tree specialist. We would suggest you contact the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Office in Travis County for possible information on this subject, and/or referral to an experienced arborist.
More Trees Questions
Disappearance of leaves on desert willow in Tucson AZ August 08, 2009 - We have a Lois Adams Desert Willow (Tucson, Az). The leaves will pump out and then a day or so later, all of the leaves are gone. The only bugs we've seen on it are very, very small ants. Could this ... view the full question and answer
Need a recommendation for a tree to replace an oak tree in Spring, TX. September 08, 2009 - I recently had an oak tree removed from my yard and want to replace it with a nice tolerant shade tree. My yard measures 65x35. What are the best non-invasive shade trees to plant in my area? view the full question and answer
Can I grow Pawpaw in Central Texas? May 25, 2010 - Do you have any tips for growing pawpaws (not papaya) in central texas? It appears to be at the edge or slightly beyond its range, but maybe if I'm nice to it..
Thanks view the full question and answer
California plants poisonous to dogs from Sacramento July 01, 2012 - Found dodonea viscosa purple. Is it poisonous to dogs? Also Gold Star Potentilla.
Going drought tolerant and need small trees, shrubs and plants not poisonous to dogs for sun and partial sun. view the full question and answer
Advice on planting Korean dogwood (Cornus kousa) in Vancouver, BC October 26, 2007 - I live in the Vancouver, BC - Pacific Northwest area and the front of our yard faces south to southwest. If I were to plant a tree other than an evergreen, would the Korean Dogwood thrive in this are... view the full question and answer