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How Do You Stop Pine Tree Roots From Growing? [5 Actionable Solutions]
There's little worse than realizing, as a homeowner, that the trees you so carefully planted in your yard may be compromising the structural integrity of your home. A pine tree's root system, though, can easily break up your foundation and cause leaks throughout your home. How, then, do you stop a pine tree's roots from growing?
There are several ways to stunt the growth of your pine tree's root system, including systematic pruning and the installation of a root barrier. The solutions available to you include:
- Physical root barriers
- Chemical root barriers
- Rain-wicking tarps
- Root pruning
- Pine tree removal
When can you save the tree, though, and when is it time for one to go? Take a look at your options to determine for yourself how best to deal with the pine tree menacing your lawn. Keep reading for an in-depth look at how to stop pine tree roots from growing.
How Do You Stop Pine Tree Roots From Growing?
Nothing's better than a shady, well-manicured lawn. There are times, though, when the trees you so carefully planted can put your home's value at risk. Pine trees, in particular, have prolific root systems that can compromise the structural integrity of your home's foundation.
If you find yourself dealing with foundation cracks or an uneven lawn, then it may be time to try and stop your pine tree's roots from continuing to spread. This isn't an easy task. If you want to try, though, you have a few solutions you can experiment with. These include:
Using A Root Barrier
The simplest way to keep a pine tree's root system away from your home is to install a root barrier. There are two common types of root barriers: physical (or mechanical) and chemical. Physical root barriers redirect roots away from your foundation without diminishing the root's health. Comparatively, chemical root barriers will kill the tree roots that it comes in contact with. Both types of barriers will help you keep your foundation in one piece without killing or otherwise harming your pine.
Installing Tarp Around The Base Of Your Tree
Pine tree root systems thrive when they have consistent access to water. If you want to stunt the growth of your pine's root system, consider laying a tarp around the base of your tree. This tarp will redirect rainwater away from your tree's root system while still allowing a workable amount through.
As a result, your pine will develop an extensive fine root system instead of a deep-set coarse root system. While a pine with fewer thick roots won't break up your home's foundation, these trees are significantly less stable than trees with deep taproots.
Spot-Removing The Roots
If you want to save your pine tree but keep the roots away from your home, you can try to systematically prune the roots that are closest to your home. Note that you do risk killing your pine in its entirety if you do this - pine trees are sensitive. However, you'll have better luck saving the tree and keeping your foundation in one piece this way.
Cutting Down The Pine
If worse comes to worst, you may have to remove the at-fault pine tree from your property entirely. This process is lengthy and will require a lot of work, so don't hesitate to reach out to a professional if you want help cutting down the tree and removing its root system. Once you're done, you can easily replant a pine growth further away from your home.
Do Pine Trees Have Deep Taproots?
The root system of a pine tree will only grow with age. If you want to learn how to keep your pine tree roots from taking over your yard, though, you need to learn a little more about their anatomy.
Pine trees grow two types of roots: fine roots and coarse roots. You'll find your pine's fine roots in the top six inches of soil surrounding the tree. These roots are replaced on a yearly basis by new fine roots, making them exceptionally difficult to get rid of.
Comparatively, coarse roots dig much deeper into the earth. These roots don't replace themselves like fine roots do and instead will live as long as the rest of the pine tree does.
A taproot is a subclass of coarse root, and yes, your pine tree has one. This root makes up the core of your pine's primary root system. Taproots grow straight down from the trunk of your pine, meaning that they're among the largest and longest roots that your pine will produce. The taproot is meant to increase the stability of your pine tree.
For a better idea of what a taproot looks like, think about the carrots you grow in your garden. The orange part of the carrot that we're so familiar with is actually the plant's taproot. A number of smaller plants, including beets, have edible taproots.
While a pine tree's taproot will be visually different than a carrot's or a beet's (and definitely not edible), the root's growth remains the same.
How Deep Are The Roots Of Pine Trees?
You may think that the depth of your pine tree's roots will depend entirely on the pine's age. You're not entirely wrong, but there are more factors that contribute to root depth than that.
The variables that most directly impact the depth of a pine tree's roots include:
- Access to water
- Oxygen flow
- Soil compaction level
So, if your pine tree has access to a healthy amount of water, has a root system that is well oxygenated, and exists in soil that's loose enough to allow for root growth, then you may be dealing with foot systems to grow to six meters deep. Comparatively, poor growing conditions will stunt root growth. If, for example, your pine tree is growing in clay soil, you won't have to worry about the tree's root system becoming so extensive.
As mentioned, though, age does contribute to the size of a pine tree's root system. On average, a young and small pine tree's root system will grow to be between four and fifteen feet long. Older and larger pine trees can have root systems up to seventy-five feet long. If you're looking to remove your pine tree's roots or stunt their growth, then, try to do so when the tree is young.
Are Tree Roots As Long As The Tree Is Tall?
There's an old agricultural myth that a tree's roots are a direct reflection of the tree itself. As such, you might expect a pine tree's roots to be just as tall as the tree itself. This isn't the case, though. As mentioned, the conditions in which a pine tree grows will impact the size of its root system. If your pine tree has lived through a number of droughts or grows in dense soil, then its root system will be smaller than that of a tree that's been well-watered and cared for.
That said, there are some cases in which the roots of a pine tree have been as tall as the tree itself. If you want to take a guess as to the size of your pine tree's root system size, take the age of your tree and its surrounding conditions into account. While you may not be able to predict the root system's size mathematically, you should have a good idea of what kind of system you'll be up against.
Read more: What to Plant Under Pine Trees?
Do Pine Trees Fall Over Easily?
As mentioned, most pine trees have a significant taproot. This taproot will typically keep your pine tree from falling over, even in the worst weather. That said, deliberately stunting a pine tree's root growth can make it less sturdy.
How Far Should Pine Trees Be From House?
One way to get around root trimming is to plant your pine tree with care. The further away from your home you plant your pine trees, the harder it'll be for a sprawling root system to come into contact with your foundation.
Smaller pine trees make excellent landscaping accents. That said, you'll want to keep these trees at least fifteen feet away from the perimeter of your home. If you do plant them closer, you're going to need a root barrier in place to keep the root systems from conflicting with your home's foundation.
If you want to bring a larger pine tree onto your property, try to plant it at least twenty feet away from your home's perimeter. It'll be unlikely that the root system will reach your home, and even if it does, you'll have several years to prepare.
Do Pine Trees Regrow After Being Cut Down?
Trees, like humans, can be stubborn. Cutting a pine tree down doesn't mean it's gone for good. Some trees are able to grow back if you leave their stumps unmolested.
Pine trees aren't the heartiest of trees, once cut. Even if you leave a pine tree's root system intact, it's unlikely that the pine tree will grow back. That said, there's no guarantee that it won't. If you want to keep your recently-deceased pine from returning, we recommend physically disposing of the pine's root system.
You can do this with the help of chemical agents or by digging the root system out of the ground. If you're dealing with an especially large tree and root system, you may want to reach out to a professional to ensure that all of the roots are removed.
Pine trees are beautiful, long-lived additions to any lawn. Don't feel as though you have to compromise the structural integrity of your home for the sake of a tree, though. If your pine tree's roots are cracking your foundation or otherwise disrupting your life, there are several ways for you to safely stunt their growth. Take advantage of the solutions you have at hand so you can enjoy both your lawn and your home to their fullest.
I have about 5 really tall pine trees in my yard…I’m having the trees cut to prevent heavy branches from cracking, falling on my house or neighbors homes…What is the best way to kill the stump Once the tree is cut down
You can use the stump as an outdoor table. Have a picnic.
Please reply to this comment.
@Rob, It has been a couple years since you wrote this question but in case you are still listening…. here are a few options from a homeowner (not a professional) with lots of pine trees and dogwood trees.
– Grind the stump down well below the ground surface. This seems to have stopped the growth.
– For an old stump at ground level, I have pounded several of these “copper nails” into the stump to hasten the decay of the stump. It is still early but the stump seems rather inactive.
– We had 3 pine trees removed to allow us to extend our garage. The garage contractor asked us to leave the stumps about 2-3 feet tall so they could get a small backhoe in rip out the stumps and more of the root system.
Great information. Thanks for all of the work that went into this.