Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - September 22, 2009

From: Fredericksburg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Live Oaks and Foundations
Answered by: Damon Waitt and Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a young live oak (18 inch trunk at it's base) growing within four feet of my house. What kind of damage can it cause my foundation? Need your help!

ANSWER:

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  said, that's pretty darn close to the house for a tree that can attain a large size such as Quercus fusiformis (plateau 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. 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.

 

 

More Trees Questions

Scrub oaks dropping limbs in Lexington TX
August 23, 2009 - We live in the country between Elgin and Lexington. One of our "scrub" oaks is dropping large limbs. On examination, the limbs have green leaves and they do not appear to be rotted. Do you think ...
view the full question and answer

Webbing on oak leaves and fuzzy yellow growths on leaf veins
November 09, 2010 - I have a large red oak(?) and live oak that appear to have the same problem. Clumps of leaves all over the trees are covered by fine webbing and the leaves appear to be curling up and dying in the we...
view the full question and answer

Is Texas Mountain Laurel Honey Toxic in Fulshear, TX?
March 11, 2012 - Toxicity of Texas Mountain Laurel HONEY I know the seeds and leaves of the Tx Mountain Laurel are toxic. But, is honey that comes from the Mountain Laurel toxic too? I heard that it is, but can'...
view the full question and answer

Dirt at tree base from Austin
November 03, 2012 - Hello, I recently bought a home in Austin with a live oak tree which is about eight years old. The previous owner did exactly what all the experts say NOT to do, which was to mound dirt right up agai...
view the full question and answer

Need to identify leaf extensions on the leaves of an elm sapling in Houston, Tx.
May 22, 2013 - I have an elm sapling which grows strange leave extensions on its leaves. Can I send you a picture? Tree looks healthy
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.