should I remove tree to protect my home's foundation

Should I Remove a Tree Near My House to Protect My Home’s Foundation?

You’ve got trees! Unfortunately, you’ve got the kind of trees that you’re thinking of removing. You’re looking for some *acorns of knowledge* about their effect on your foundation if you leave them in or if you take them out. You’re wondering things like:

Should I take that tree out?

What will happen if I do/don’t take that tree out?

Should I be worried about my foundation?

Trees are beautiful, needed for oxygen, and add value to your property. You don’t want to lose them but you also don’t want them to cause costly foundation problems for your home.

Anchor Foundation Repair

At Anchor Foundation Repair we have been inspecting and repairing Brazos Valley foundations since 1985. Most properties we work with have trees on them and we see how trees interact with and sometimes affect foundations. While we are not tree experts, we can look holistically at your yard, home, and plans for your property. We can look at the overall system and help you think through decisions about the future of your trees and your foundation. 

Let’s *cut down* on your concerns about trees on your property and help you figure out which direction is best for you and your home.

Should I Take a Tree Out to Prevent Foundation Settlement?

We really love trees. They provide shade, they add beauty and purify the air, they reduce runoff and erosion, they can even keep your utility bills lower. For the value of the home and for the enjoyment of your yard, we never recommend tree removal unless it is leaning dangerously in the direction of your home or completely dead.

trees and foundations

What Happens to the Foundation if I Leave the Tree in Place?

That’s a good question, but one we don’t exactly know the answer to since we can’t predict the future. But let’s make a few guesses that are not guaranteed. 

The tree in question will continue to grow until it reaches maturity if it hasn’t already. Identifying the tree will help you to know just how long the usual life lasts. Live oaks can live for hundreds of years, but several elm varieties are large trees that surprisingly only have around a 40-year life expectancy. 

You might not have to deal with a tree for too much longer depending on the variety. Knowing how long to expect a tree to live could help you decide what to do about it.

crappy elm tree

If it’s a tree that might live for a significant number of years still, trimming and shaping the tree could help to control or guide its growth a bit, as well as keep it attractive and in good health. This is where you would want to consult someone who knows a lot more about trees for advice, like an arborist or tree expert. 

Fortunately for Bryan-College Station residents, we have an amazing resource right here in town at the Texas A&M University Horticulture Department. Throughout Texas, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service provides free help and expert advice to citizens covering all counties in the state.

Ultimately, leaving the tree in place will continue to provide you with shade, beauty, and possibly lower utility bills. So it’s best to enjoy it as long as possible until it isn’t enjoyable anymore.

*Hint* If you’re scared it’s going to fall on your house, it’s not enjoyable anymore.

What Happens to My Home Foundation if I Take a Tree Out?

Even though we know that trees take in water and a lack of moisture in the ground can contribute to foundation settlement, the removal of a tree does not ensure that a home will stabilize and stop moving. In other words, taking out a live tree might not solve your problem. 

dead tree vs living tree

The “living system” of your home and yard will respond to changes, but there’s no guarantee that it will respond the way you want it to. So then you have lost a good tree for nothing.

When you remove a tree, the roots underground will die and decay and then the opportunity for settlement may actually increase. When things decay they take up less space and shrink, when things in the ground shrink (similar our expansive clay soil) then whatever is on top of the ground can move and settle down more as well.

Sometimes removing live trees can just make settlement worse, so make sure that it’s either a dangerous tree that causes you to worry or a tree that is pretty well dead anyway and can’t be saved.

Deciding Whether to Take the Tree Out or Leave it in Place

It’s hard to know which way to go, isn’t it? Here are a few scenarios that might help you decide.

Keep The Tree If One of These Is You

  • If you like the tree and it is giving you good shade and enjoyment, leave it in.
  • If your only concern is a question of whether to leave it or not, leave it.
  • If it is healthy and still has life left in it, leave it in place.

Remove the Tree If One of These Applies to You

remove this tree
  • If it looks like it’s dying or near the end of its life already, consider removing it soon.
  • If it is dangerously leaning over your home and causes you to worry with every storm, take it out and know that some settlement may occur.
  • If it is ugly and you hate it and it’s causing too many problems, take it out.
  • If it’s dead or damaging to your home, take it out.

Removing trees can have unintended consequences that you can’t control any better than the weather. If a tree gets removed, you will then want to watch for signs of settlement or foundation problems in that area. We have an article that covers the top 5 signs foundation repairs are needed so that you can look out for issues that might need fixing at some point.

Can You Recommend a Tree Trimming or Removal Service?

If you decide that trimming or removing a tree close to your home needs to go, we recommend getting help. Cutting trees near a structure is a lot trickier than cutting a tree that has no buildings around it. Tree services will know how to secure limbs to keep them from falling on your home during the process.

tree removal

If you have ever seen America’s Funniest Videos, you know that inexperienced people cutting down trees near their homes can result in some major damage. It’s funny when you see it happen on TV, but I’m guessing not nearly as funny when it happens to you personally.

Anchor Foundation Repair has been helping Brazos Valley homeowners for 35+ years in the community. While helping people with their homes, we run across top-notch contractors all the time and are familiar with some quality tree service professionals.

Check out our article on the Best Tree Services in the Brazos Valley next if you are thinking of trimming or taking out trees. Best of luck to you!