Tree Root Damage and Causes

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Published: May 21, 2014 Last Updated: September 10, 2019

Tree roots damage concrete driveways and may need to be trimmed back or removed. Several solutions exist for this, but be careful if it’s the neighbors tree.

Solutions include:

  1. Trimming back the roots or cutting them off. Use caution when cutting the roots that you don’t kill the tree, especially if it is the neighbor’s tree. Also, if the roots are cut back too far the tree may fall.
  1. Cutting the tree down and removing the roots.
  1. Moving the tree. When small this is easy to do, when big, it’s expensive to do.

Tip: Consult with a local arborist on what type of root system that type of tree has and ask their advice on how to best handle this. Tree roots differ and arborist can provide great advise. The city, county or a local nursery may have an arborist on staff.


If your neighbors tree is the root of the problem, it would be wise to discuss with him or her your concerns and about possibly cutting the roots in order to stop further damage.

Keep in mind; there are many laws and they differ from state about neighbor’s trees, so some research would also be wise. One risk example is that if you cut the roots, even though they are on your property, and the tree dies or falls, you could be held responsible.

Sewer blockages, foundation cracks and slab cracks

If a home seller discloses that the sewer line has had problems or clogs at times and you see trees in the area, then getting the sewer line videoed would be wise. Plumbers will often video sewer lines. (read more about videoing sewer lines)

Concrete slab or foundation cracks may be due to tree root issues, however, one should not jump conclusions on what caused the cracks. At times the cause is visually very evident, but often it is not. Slabs and foundations crack for many reasons. Common causes include settling, improper or missing control joints and expansive soils.

Who to consult? Landscapers, gardeners and arborists.

Buyers or home owners themselves will generally handle the majority of tree root issues that they have. At times they may have a gardener or landscaper trim or cut back roots. In complex situations an arborist may be consulted.

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