Tree roots might not be something you worry about on a daily basis, but crazy enough, these seemingly docile water-seekers can cause structural damage to homes, sidewalks, or underground pipes if not controlled by root barriers. Discover more about what root barriers are and how they can protect your home.
What is a root barrier system?
Root barrier systems are underground walls that protect pipes and sewer lines from being invaded by tree roots that will do anything to find water. Root barriers typically protect a home’s foundation and plumbing from tree root damage. Root barriers, however, can also protect other underground pipes or structures. Root barrier systems can be made from a variety of materials including metal, fiberglass, and permeable mesh. Some barriers also contain chemicals that inhibit the growth of roots.
How do root barrier systems work?
Root barrier systems act as a wall and a waterproof seal that protects a structure. They are placed around the structure, or around the roots of a newly planted tree in order to guide the roots as they grow. Root barriers cannot be penetrated by roots, which means the surrounding tree roots will grow in directions away from the barrier, and therefore, away from pipes and sewer lines.
Some root barriers, when installed improperly however, can prevent water in the soil from draining and if not installed deep enough, roots may still grow around the barrier. It is important to find a trained professional to install your root barrier systems for you so that no error will occur.
When do you need a root barrier system?
It is best to install root barriers before the tree roots start to impede surrounding structures. The best time to install a root barrier is when the tree is first planted and the roots are not formed yet in the soil. Matured tree roots that are not controlled can easily grow into pipes and sewer lines, creating blockages and damaging structures. Younger roots can be manipulated more easily.
How root barrier systems installed?
Root barrier installation begins by digging a trench at least 2 feet deep into the ground around the structure it is intended to protect. They are installed parallel to the structure about 2 feet away from the root diameter of the tree. The root barrier should extend to the surface of the ground in order to ensure that roots do not grow around it. If the root barrier is installed at the same time a tree is planted, the soil should be loosened where you would like the roots to grow. The loose soil is easier for roots to penetrate than the harder soil surrounding the structure you are protecting with the root barrier.