Pine trees are evergreen trees that provide beauty to your garden throughout the year. If you’ve ever used pine mulch in your garden, you already know how valuable they can be! Pine trees are known for being resilient and hardy while preventing soil erosion because they stabilize the ground. But do pine trees have deep roots?
Pine trees usually do have deep roots, but the larger the tree, the deeper its roots will spread into the ground. A small pine tree can have a root length of about 10 feet (3m), while a larger pine tree can have roots that can go up to 70 feet (21m) or more into the ground.
The size of a pine tree’s roots varies depending on the tree as well as its environment.
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Do Pine Trees Have Deep or Shallow Roots?
Pine trees have deep roots, but most of their roots are found within the surface 20 or so inches (6cm) of soil. Although pine trees have shallow roots, they can also grow deeper taproots during the early years of their life. The shallow roots tend to take over and become more prominent as the trees age.
These shallow roots spread horizontally in the soil so that they can take up a large quantity of water and nutrients to benefit the tree. If the area surrounding the roots doesn’t have enough resources, the roots are more likely to spread further distances so that they will find what the tree needs to survive.
How Deep are Pine Tree Roots?
Pine tree roots can be between three to 75 feet (0.9-22m) in depth. Their root depth is affected by the pine tree species and factors such as how the roots are attached to the tree and the soil conditions.
Pine tree roots can adapt to challenging environments. They can grow various types of roots to help them gain more nutrients from the soil. These roots include:
- Deep taproots. In dry environments, these roots travel deep into the ground to reach water and nutrients the tree requires to survive. If there’s lots of oxygen in the soil, taproots can reach a depth of six feet (1.8m). But, if there’s not a lot of oxygen, the roots won’t be able to dig deeper into the soil.
- Lateral roots. These woody roots spread across the soil and are primarily used to stabilize the tree against harsh winds and storms. They can grow parallel to the ground and be quite large.
- Coarse roots. These roots travel deep into the soil and stabilize the pine tree while collecting water from deeper areas in the ground. They can save the life of a pine tree during a drought by retrieving water in this way.
Depending on the soil in which the pine tree is planted, the tree’s roots can vary. For example, if the soil is sandy, the pine tree could grow two layers of roots to help it survive. One type of root will grow closer to the soil surface, while the second root will grow deeper into the ground to protect the tree against harsh conditions.
Do Pine Tree Roots Damage Foundation?
Pine tree roots aren’t strong enough to damage foundations, even though the roots can be quite deep. Most of the roots are located underneath the soil’s surface, so they don’t threaten foundations.
Pine tree roots grow down into the ground instead of spreading outward, which also makes them less likely to damage foundations. That said, if the foundation is damaged in any way, this can make it more likely that tree roots will penetrate and damage it further. This could cause problems if the foundation and tree are close to each other.
Although pine tree roots don’t usually cause damage to house foundations, they can damage thinner concrete structures, such as cracked walkways, so you should ensure you don’t plant these trees too close to them.
Despite the above, it’s still recommended that you plant pine trees far away enough from your house so that its roots won’t cause problems to an already damaged foundation.
The tree also needs enough space for its branches to stretch outwards. While a tree won’t necessarily damage a healthy foundation, a house foundation could damage the roots of the tree! It could prevent the tree’s roots from spreading, reducing how much water the roots can find in the ground to keep the tree healthy.
How Far Should a Pine Tree Be From a House?
A pine tree should be about 20 feet (6m) from a house. It’s good practice to consider the height your tree will reach in maturity. If your pine tree is going to be 25 feet (7m), you should plant it roughly the same distance from your house.
Generally, you should plant trees about 20 feet (6m) from your house to be safe.
This will ensure the tree can have enough room so it won’t get in the way of your house, such as by obstructing sunlight from reaching your windows.
Before planting a pine tree in your garden, choose the right cultivar. If you don’t have a lot of space in your garden, opt for dwarf pine tree varieties. These can reach a height of 20 feet (6m) or less, and they have shorter, less extensive roots that won’t interfere with any structures on your property.
Can Pine Tree Roots Damage Pipes?
Pine tree roots can damage pipes because their roots can grip onto them or push them. These roots are drawn to the closest water source, so if they’re planted too close to your pipes, they can damage them by trying to find water in the ground.
It’s not uncommon for pine tree roots to wrap around pipes, break them or enter into cracks that are in the pipes, and even fill up your pipes. This can wreak havoc on the plumbing in your home. You might find leaky pipes, which can be as a result of pine tree roots that grow next to a pipe and become thicker over time. This can push the pipe, causing it to crack.
There are many ways in which pine tree roots can damage your pipes, so it’s recommended to plant pine trees at least 10 feet (3m) away from the closest pipes.
Common signs of pipe damage from pine tree roots include the following:
- Clogs in the sink or toilet.
- Gurgling in your drains.
- Water that doesn’t drain quickly from sinks.
- Low water pressure in sinks or showers.
- A drop in water pressure.
- Unusual sounds in the pipes.
How Do You Remove Pine Roots?
You can remove pine roots by checking for roots close to the ground surface and being careful not to remove too many as this can damage your tree. You’ll have to dig a hole around the tree and use an axe to remove the roots.
Here are the steps to follow:
- Check the surface of the ground near the tree. Since pine tree roots are shallow, you might see them reaching out of the surface of the ground. You could also dig around the area to find any roots that are beneath the soil surface.
- Dig a hole around the tree. This will help you to see what roots to remove and make it easier to cut them.
- Use a saw or axe to cut the roots. Cut the roots carefully so as not to harm the tree trunk. Remove the roots after they’ve been cut.
- Don’t remove more than 25% of the roots you can see, or you risk damaging the tree. You’ll be cutting off its supply of nutrients and water.
Although it’s possible to cut pine tree roots so that they don’t harm your pipes, you should do this cautiously. If you’re not experienced with cutting tree roots, you should call a professional. Cutting a tree’s roots comes with potentially negative consequences, which include:
- Root injuries. This will damage the tree’s crown, which consists of branches, leaves, and other structures that grow from the trunk.
- Weakening of the tree. If you cut many large roots in the ground, you’ll cause the tree to be weaker so it can’t stabilize itself against strong winds.
- Collapse. By weakening the tree, its branches and trunk could collapse because it can’t hold itself up, or it could be too weak from a lack of nutrition and water.
- Damage to your possessions. A pine tree that’s been weakened could fall onto your car or house, causing expensive damage or the loss of your possessions. In severe cases, it could even injure someone on your property.