Can Maple Tree Roots Damage Foundation?

There is nothing like sitting on your front porch under the shade of a lush maple tree to cool off during a hot summer afternoon. But, when a maple tree is that close to your house, you may be concerned about what is happening beneath the soil. You may be wondering if its root system affects your foundation. Lucky for you, we have researched this very topic.

There are certain types of maple trees commonly known to contribute to foundation damage. These include:

  • Norway maple trees
  • Silver maple trees

Don't plant these trees close to your house. There is a high chance their roots will contribute to foundation damage. 

There are other types of maple trees that very rarely cause foundation damage. These include:

  • Sugar maple trees
  • Japanese maple trees

You probably still have some questions about maple trees and foundation damage. Keep reading as we dive deeper into these trees' root systems and how you can tell if tree roots are damaging a foundation.

A two story suburban home in autumn with a maple tree in front yard and fallen leaves on lawn, Can Maple Tree Roots Damage Foundation?

Maple Trees With Invasive Roots

There are many varieties of maple trees. Some have large, penetrative, invasive root systems, while others have small, fragile root systems. You should avoid planting any maple trees close to your house if it has an invasive root system. 

If you recently moved into a house with a maple tree planted near it, you may want to know how long it can grow. Check out this blog post: How Long Do Maple Trees Live? [By Type Of Maple] for more information. 

Maples To Avoid Planting Near Your House 

The following kinds of maple trees have invasive root systems. To avoid potential foundation damage, we highly recommend planting these trees far from any building structure. 

Norway Maple Trees

Suburban residential street with a row of Norway maple trees in beautiful golden yellow fall colors

These large maple trees are native to central and eastern Europe. When introduced to North America, they became a highly invasive species. Their root systems are very shallow and large, which makes topsoil dry out faster. A dry, dry ground surface creates an environment where foundation damage is more likely to happen.  

Silver Maple Trees 

Magnificent old silver maple or Acer saccharinum in spring park

Silver maple trees are native to the eastern and central parts of the United States and southeastern Canada. It is one of the common trees in the US, but that doesn't mean it is a  good choice to plant close to your home. Just like the Norway maple, the silver maple's root system is very shallow and large. Since it spreads out in a thick fibrous pattern, it is notorious for cracking sidewalks, invading drainage pipes, and damaging foundations.  

Maple Trees With Non-Invasive Roots 

There are many types of maple trees with smaller, more delicate root systems. These types of maple trees are often shorter and look more ornamental. It is okay to plant maple trees with non-invasive root systems near your home. However, keep in mind there is always a possibility any tree planted near your home will cause damage as it grows. 

Maples To Plant Near Your House 

The following maple trees do not have extremely invasive root systems. If you really want a maple tree planted close to your home, there is a very low chance these varieties will cause foundation damage. 

Sugar Maple Trees

Sugar maple

Native to eastern Canada and the northeastern United States, the sugar maple is known for its beautiful red autumn foliage and as the source of maple syrup. This popular maple tree variety has a shallow, fibrous root system. The root system is relatively weak compared to other maple trees, so it is less likely to cause foundation damage. The sugar maple makes a lovely addition to your yard and provides plenty of shade when full-grown without a high risk of foundation damage. 

Check out this blog post: How Fast Does A Sugar Maple Grow, for more information about this type of tree. 

Japanese Maple Trees 

Japanese Maple Tree in Autumn with vivid colors in Portland Garden

The Japanese maple is another excellent choice for planting closer to your home. It is native to Japan, Korea, and China but has become a popular garden tree in the United States. Its root system is very compact and non-invasive. With proper pruning and trimming, this tree stays very small. It is the least likely of all maple trees to cause foundation damage, and it is the best choice for planting close to any building. 

Many houses have magnolia trees in the garden too. Read this blog post: Are Magnolia Tree Roots Invasive? [And How To Remove Them], if you have this tree in your yard. 

How To Spot Tree Root Foundation Damage 

Roots of the maple tree with orange autumn leaves

Every responsible homeowner needs to keep an eye on their foundation. It is important to spot damage before it is too late. Many maple trees and other deciduous trees are known to cause problems with building foundations. If you have any large trees close to your house, look for the following signs of foundation damage:

  • Small verticle cracks in the foundation walls
  • Shattered windows with no sign of the cause
  • Warped floor surfaces 
  • Uneven doorframes 

If you notice any of these signs, you should investigate your tree root system immediately. Call a professional if you suspect an invasive root system is behind your foundation problems.  

How Close To A House Can You Plant A Maple Tree?

Suburban residential street with a row of Norway maple trees in beautiful golden yellow fall colors, Can Maple Tree Roots Damage Foundation

If you want to plant a maple tree in your yard, it is best to plant it far away from your house. Certain types, like Japanese maples, can be planted as close as 10 feet to your house. But, this is the one exception. Most maples trees should be at least 30 feet from any building. Common varieties like the sugar maple can be as close as 25 feet, while Norway and silver maples should be at least 100 feet away from your home to ensure no foundation damage. 

Do Maple Tree Roots Grow Down Or Out?

Most maple tree roots grow out instead of down. They stay relatively close to the surface but spread far away from the tree trunk. This is why you don't want to plant one right next to any building structure. Their outward growing root systems create the perfect conditions for foundation damage by sucking the soil dry during periods of little rainfall.

This means that once it rains again, water is more likely to flow straight through the dry solid and into any small cracks present in your foundation. With time, standing water in foundation cracks causes major problems to your home. 

How Far Out Can Maple Tree Roots Grow?

Many types of maple trees have expansive root systems. A large maple's roots usually spread out as far as 25 feet from the trunk. Some varieties can expand even farther than this, while others never get that big. There are over 100 species of maple trees, so there is a lot of variation in root growth. 

Will Cutting Roots Kill A Maple Tree?

If a maple tree is fully developed and healthy, cutting a few roots will not kill the tree. It all depends on the age of the tree, how big it is, and how many roots you cut. For example, if you dig a hole 10 feet away from a large maple tree and you use your shovel to cut through a large root, you will not kill the tree. Large maples should be strong enough to handle a little damage. Most maples have an extensive enough root system to handle a few cut/damaged roots and survive. 

Do Maple Trees Have Strong Roots?

Some maple trees have very strong roots. As you know by now, there are many different types of maple trees. This means there are many different variations in root strength. Some maples, like the silver maple, are known for their incredibly strong roots. Others, like the Norway maple, have much weaker roots. Keep in mind that week roots can still cause foundation damage. So, remember never to plant any type of maple tree right next to your house. 

Protect Your Foundation 

A two story suburban home in autumn with a maple tree in front yard and fallen leaves on lawn, Can Maple Tree Roots Damage Foundation?

If you want to ensure no damage to your foundation, don't plant any type of maple tree close to your house. Maple tree roots can damage the foundation. Like the Japanese and sugar maple, some varieties are less likely to cause problems, but it is still best to plant these trees away from your house. No matter what you decide to plant, make sure to keep an eye on your foundation to prevent further problems. 

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