I have a huge, 40-year-old maple tree whose trunk is 19' from my house and...

Asked January 18, 2016, 3:45 PM EST

I have a huge, 40-year-old maple tree whose trunk is 19' from my house and has a circumference of over 10', and am worried what the roots might do to my basement walls and septic & drainage systems. The top has been kept cut back, so I am not so worried about branches coming down. I have discussed this with my neighbor who has a PHD in horticulture, has a small farm, works with trees in his woods, and is knowledgeable about the septic system. He believes I should not worry about it, but all the "research" I have done on the internet warns strongly about the damage such trees can cause when near a house. I am having a difficult time deciding whether it should be removed and wonder if you have any information to help me. For instance, I know how far the roots can reach, but it may be important to know how large (or thick) they are. I will be grateful for your advice.

Cecil County Maryland

3 Responses

Roots do not go through foundation walls. In general, maple trees have shallow spreading roots. There are usually more problems with nearby plants because they rob the soil of moisture with their surface roots. All you can do is make sure the tank and drain lines are in working order, no cracks or leaks, and do not need to be replaced.

Thank you very much for your comments. Is there not a problem with roots expanding and pushing against the foundation wall enough to crack it? Would it make a difference if it were a silver maple? I was told it was a silver maple, but it does not match the descriptions I have read. I appreciate your help.

We do not think that the roots that far from the tree are of concern for pushing your foundation wall and causing it to crack.