I have a willow tree about 12-15 feet from the house and the base of the trunk is about 12 inches. I understand the roots can enter water systems, but can they also impact house foundations? To prevent any potential damage I am uncertain whether it is best to remove the tree now or to just manage its growth.
The concern is if the roots have already entered the foundations or water systems then killing the tree will cause the roots to decay and leave gaps and perhaps cause further damage. Any advice on how best to manage the tree in the future would be gratefully accepted.
Hardiness Zone: 8a
Alan from Gloucetser, UK
Sorry to hear about the placement of your willow tree. Twelve to fifteen feet from the house sounds awfully close. This tree species grows fast and its roots are experts at seeking out water. The nutrient-rich water from leaky sewer pipes or cracked water lines acts like a magnet to the roots of these water-loving trees. This is why they don't belong in residential landscapes-not to mention that willows drop a lot of kindling and are quite messy as they age. It's hard to say whether or not your tree's roots will infiltrate your foundation, if they haven't already. One determining factor is where in relation to the location of your tree, that your water and sewer pipes enter and exit your home. As long as the roots have enough room to spread out, a solid structure like your foundation will divert the direction of their growth, providing that is, that any nearby pipes are in good repair and moisture doesn't tend to pool in the area. Build up the soil around your foundation and use rain gutters to divert the flow of water away from your home. If it doesn't impede the flow of water away from your foundation, you may also want to have a landscaper install a root barrier. Of course, prevention is the best medicine. If you end up having the tree removed, do so a few weeks after it leafs out in the spring when most of the tree's energy has been expended. Gaps and cracks left by decaying roots can always be filled and repaired.
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We had a weeping willow growing about 10- 12 feet from the house at my childhood home. It eventually became disesed and and had to be cut down after about 25-30 years, but in all that time we never had any foudation trouble.
12-15 feet isn't very far. Ours had to be cut down after 7 years because it was too close and too risky, even full of termites which are attracted to it's roots and bark! It broke my heart because it was so lovely.
In our area, there are two kinds of Willows, one, called, the "Water Willow" the other not so prone to
grow in water. The Water Willow is not attractive, with scraggly bark. The better Willow, I believe, is called a Black Willow, although not black in color, with limbs that drape beautifully. They attract a wonderful attractive/huge black/white beetle with long thick black antennaes.
I'd remove it since it's so close, because roots
will NOT get smaller nor die out, and can perhaps allow any foundation problem to resolve itself as the foundation receeds back into position once the tree is cut? Remember to cross-cut the tree stump or have it ground out. I had no sapling tree sprouts to return once it was removed.
If in the water lines, you will have slow water intake. Learn where the fresh water lines and drainage lines are. If in the sewer, of course you will now have slower drainage. It's a terribly hard decision to make, I know, but in the long run, you will likely be happy for the removal.
Take pictures of it before removal. In the olden days we left the stump about 30 inches high and placed a top on it for potted flowering plants, shading the stump. I don't remember if it returned, but I don't believe it re-grew. Good luck and God bless you. : )
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