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Archive for the ‘Roots’ Category

Buying A Home? Don’t Forget To Inspect The Trees!

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018


Shrewd house hunters always await a professional inspection before purchasing a home. Too often, though, homebuyers completely neglect to inspect the trees surrounding the house and property.

It’s always a good idea to hire an ISA Certified Arborist before buying a house. A yard may require extensive tree maintenance or have other tree issues you’ll need to take care of. Partnering with an Oregon and Washington arborist will help you avoid unexpected surprises down the road.



Why Inspect Your Trees?

Inspecting the trees in a yard before purchasing a house ensures the property aligns with all local landscaping regulations. A professional and certified Washington and Oregon arborist knows what to look for and will help ensure you make a fully informed decision.

Beyond regulations, the most important reason for a pre-purchase home and property tree inspection is safety. Problematic trees pose a great risk of damaging your property or endangering your family.



Tree Issues to Watch for When Purchasing a Home

Your realtor or home inspector may not understand how to spot signs of a problematic tree. An ISA Certified Arborist, on the other hand, will know exactly what to look for. They will ensure you are fully informed as you make the big decision to buy a home in Oregon or Washington.

Here are a few of the things an ISA Certified Arborist will look for when inspecting a house and property.

Tree Species

Beyond potential tree dangers or issues, it’s smart to know the species of trees you’ll be dealing with. Here in Washington and Oregon, there are over 60 native tree species alone!

Arborists will begin by determining the type of trees on the property. Then, they’ll educate you on what to expect, including:

  • Seasonal characteristics of the trees
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Common issues

Whether or not you have any interest in trees, knowing the species surrounding your property is very important for maintaining your new house and yard.



Dead, Dying, or Diseased Trees

Dead, dying, or diseased trees on your property don’t just look bad, they are also a huge inconvenience and potentially catastrophic. Dead or dying trees attract pests and can fall without warning. Diseased or pest infected trees can spread to other trees around your property.

A dead or dying tree on your property can’t fix itself. It will be your job as the new homeowner to take care of the issue. This can be an expensive undertaking, especially if it’s a large tree and requires removal.
There are 3 tell-tale signs an Arborist will look for to determine the health of your tree:

  1. Trunk Damage: As a tree ages, old bark will fall off and grow a new layer. A tree without bark can be an indication of failing health. An Arborist will also look for vertical cracks and damage along the tree trunk.
  2. Fungus: Fungus along the trunk or branches of a tree may indicate internal rot. A rotting tree means it’s either dying or already dead.
  3. Damaged Roots: Some signals an Arborist will look for are small branches popping up from the base of the tree trunk. This is known as epicormic shoots and means the tree is under extreme stress. Another sign of damaged roots can be a tree leaning to one side.



Trees Too Close to the House

At a glance, a big maple tree in the front yard adds character to the property. But if the tree isn’t sturdy, there’s a chance it could come crashing down on your house during a storm. A tree decades old can have hidden problems that the current owner isn’t aware of.

Even if the tree is sturdy and safe, an Arborist can analyze the amount of yearly maintenance will be required.

Here some questions an Arborist can help you answer:

  • Will regular pruning be required?
  • Will you be dealing with an abundance of leaves to clean during the fall?
  • Is the tree close enough to drop branches or debris into your gutter?
  • Does the tree have nuts or fruit you’ll need to take care of?

A tree may not be very close to your house, but if it’s big enough, its branches may pose an issue. Unruly tree branches can fall on your roof or car, crash through windows, or deposit debris around your yard.



Roots Disturbing the House Foundation

A beautiful tree in your yard could be causing a significant threat to the foundation of your home.
Roots grow in search of water and nutrients. Depending on the type of soil surrounding your house, this can cause structural damage to your property.

For instance, if your house sits on compact clay soil, roots pushing their way though can affect the placement of this soil. This can cause your foundation to shift and crack.

Another type of soil that is easily damaged by roots is loose dirt and rock. This material will easily shift and become displaced as roots move through.

ISA Certified Arborists can get a read on the type of soil around your property. They will give you an idea of how roots are affecting your foundation, or how they may cause problems down the road.



Problematic Tree Pests

Perhaps the most annoying tree issue to be aware of is a pest infestation. Depending on the Pacific Northwest area you live in, there are certain tree pests to be aware of. An Arborist will tell you exactly what type of insects to watch out for and whether or not a tree is currently infected.

A pest-infected tree can pose many problems. Some bugs can chew through the wood and bark of your tree, making it unsound and unsafe. Others will eat away at your tree, slowly killing it. If you’re dealing with a serious infestation, it’s possible the bugs have spread to other trees on the property.

Beyond insects and pests, it’s also smart to be aware of other critters than may be living in your trees. From squirrels and raccoons to bees, owls, and other birds.



What If the Tree Inspection Reveals a Problem?

A tree issue on the property doesn’t always mean you shouldn’t purchase the house. But it should play a role in your decision. If the house or property has a severe tree issue, it could cost you hundreds (and even thousands) of dollars. You may be able to negotiate a lower price on the home or have the seller pay for the cost of maintenance.

If you’re looking at a home in the Oregon or Washington area, contact us. We’ll ensure you’re getting the best deal for your money and eliminate unwanted surprises by conducting a pre-purchase home and property tree inspection. Our ISA Certified Arborists are happy to help you.


Category Landscaping, Pests, Roots, Tree

How to Kill Tree Roots Naturally

Friday, October 16th, 2015

exposed tree roots forestPublished

Most of the time, you want tree roots to thrive. But if you’re removing a tree and don’t want regrowth, or if tree roots are dangerously close to something underground, you may need to kill them. It’s something we handle here at Northwest Arbor-Culture, Inc., and some homeowners like to DIY as well. Here’s a basic primer on how to kill tree roots.

How to Kill Tree Roots Naturally, Without Chemicals

An easy way to kill tree roots is to spray chemicals like hexazinone or bromacil onto the soil above, then wait for rain to push the chemicals down to the roots and kill them. But here in the Northwest, we’re pretty eco-conscious, and a lot of folks don’t want to use harsh chemicals. They can leach into our water supply, after all. So here are three ideas for how to kill tree roots naturally.

First, a little education. Trees use their bark to transport water and nutrients from the roots up to the rest of the tree. Girdling is a technique where you cut off the outer layer of bark, making it impossible for the tree to feed itself. The tree and roots will eventually die. This method is natural, but it can take several years if the tree is big. (That’s because trees can store lots of nutrients in their roots, like a backup supply of food.)

tree girdling wikipedia

If you try girdling, cut the tree bark and treat the cut with undiluted white vinegar. (Substitute herbicide for vinegar if you aren’t as concerned about how to kill tree roots naturally.) If you don’t apply vinegar or an herbicide to the tree wound, you may get suckers, or small offshoots, as the tree creates new growth. Remember, different types of trees will react differently to girdling. If the sapwood is quite thick, it will take longer for the tree to die.

Paving or mulching on top of your tree roots will also kill them. (You’ll need at least six inches of mulch.) Without sufficient air, the roots will die, and so will the rest of the tree afterward. Like girdling, these methods take a while before they are effective.

How to Kill Tree Roots with Salt

Much like suffocating roots by mulching, you can cut off roots’ water supply and they will essentially die of thirst. Rock salt will accomplish this. When you apply salt to tree roots, it absorbs all the water, leaving none to nourish the tree. Let me warn you, though, that salt doesn’t discriminate. It will also kill your nearby plants and grass, so be careful.

giant tree roots

How to Kill Tree Roots in Sewer Line

Trees love plumbing because it gives them a steady supply of water. Some people opt for chemical treatments if they discover tree roots in their sewer line. Adding chemicals to your toilet bowl will eventually reach the tree roots in your sewer line and kill them. However, some people don’t want to add chemicals to the water supply. I’ve also heard homeowners try to kill tree roots in their sewer line byauger tree tool kill roots flushing rock salt or copper sulfate down the toilet. Copper sulfate in particular is very corrosive, though.

Here at Northwest Arbor-Culture, Inc., we have access to heavy-duty equipment like augers and hydrojetters that can kill tree roots in your sewer line without chemicals. Augers go into your pipes and cut off tree roots. They may grow back, though, so some homeowners choose to follow this with a foaming root killer like RootX. Hydrojetters clear obstructed pipes by blasting water through them, pushing out tree roots that have crept in. Both are ways to kill tree roots without chemicals.

If you want advice on how to kill tree roots naturally, with salt, in your sewer, or elsewhere, contact the Certified Arborists at Northwest Arbor-Culture, Inc. We would be happy to give you a free consultation about your tree. Call or email us today.

Photos: Wikipedia, Anna Levinzon, Tim Green, Charles Barnard Tools and Machines

Category DIY, Roots

Damage From Tree Roots

Friday, May 9th, 2014


Getting To The Root Of The Problem

The taste of a fresh apple picked right off the branch in your back yard. The fragrance of cherry blossoms in full bloom. Relaxing cherry-blossom-NW-Treewith a loved one in the shade of your weeping willow.

Trees are a big part of our lives, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. We have a special place in our hearts for forests and the beauty that trees bring to our cityscapes.

But there can be a costly side to all of that greenery. If not planned and planted properly, tree roots can cause extensive damage to sewers, sidewalks, foundations, and landscapes in general.

Read this post to learn why trees cause so much damage to our homes and what you can do to prevent costly repairs and removals on your property.

Beneath the Surface

Roots are the foundation of a tree. Providing crucial support, water, and nutrients that a tree needs to survive. But because they are underground, many people don’t consider how widespread and deep roots travel when planting near their homes.

Picture the tallest tree in your yard.Tree-Crown-Distribution

Now imagine that the roots spreading from it are twice as long as the height of the tree.

Roots grow in search of water and nutrients and seek out the nearest source. Which can often be your drainage or septic system.

The effect roots have on your landscape and soil are great. Some tree roots can suck upwards of 200 gallons of water a day from the surrounding soil. Causing the soil to dry and contract if not properly watered.

But how can a plant affect something as strong as metal pipes or a concrete foundation?

Slow and Steady

Root growth can cause lots of damage to your home in many different ways. Here are some of the most common problems and what causes them.

Clogged Sewers and Drainage Pipes

Standard drainage pipes have holes in them to allow waste water from your home to seep into the ground. Roots in search for water can easily grow into these holes. Clogging and even completely blocking pipes.

Sidewalks and Cement Slabsroot-sidwalk-web

Roots can easily grow in the space under sidewalks and cement patio slabs. When the root matures and thickens, it lifts the cement causing it to strain and crack under the pressure.

Building Foundations

There’s common misconception that roots can penetrate poured concrete foundations and cause damage. In reality, it is the amount of water that roots suck from the soil around a foundation that will cause the soil to dry and contract. This movement of soil causes instability around the foundation and leads to possible damage.


Trees planted in landscape arrangements can quickly grow and force out other smaller bushes and plants. Ruining a carefully planned landscape arrangement and replacing ornamental plants with exposed and gnarled tree roots.

But if roots are so invasive and persistent, how can I ever stop them from damaging my property?

Dealing With The Damage

There are many different products and methods out there to help you unclog drains and destroy root systems.

Plumbers often recommend pouring toxic chemicals down your drain to kill tree roots. Or in some cases, use a long tool called an ‘auger’ that travels down your drain and actually saws away the roots in your sewage system.

These methods are generally only quick fixes and can lead to contaminated soil and sick trees.

Some landscapers will physically cut invasive tree roots and install a metal barrier. Stopping the roots from growing in that direction. This practice can severely damage or kill trees. Possibly causing the tree to be unstable and susceptible to blowing over in heavy winds.

But how can you avoid all of these expensive and time consuming procedures?

“An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure”

tree-plantedThe wisdom of Benjamin Franklin can be applied to many situations including this one. Preventing root damage before it begins is the best alternative to ever dealing with clogged drains and cracking concrete.

Taking the time to plan the location and type of tree you plant on your property can save you a lot of time, money, and heartache.

Avoiding species like willows, maples, and aspens can help limit invasive root growth. Also, planting trees at least 10 feet from your foundation, sidewalks, and concrete slabs will help prevent structural damage and concrete cracking in the future.

Hire A Professional

When you hire a skilled, Certified Arborist you will benefit from their training and wisdom.

The experts at Northwest Arbor Culture Inc. have over 30 years of landscaping and tree care experience. We will help you plan and plant your trees so that you get the most out of your landscape while keeping you and your home safe.

Give us a call today at (503) 538-8733 to learn how we can help you with all of your landscaping and tree care needs across the Pacific Northwest.

Are tree roots damaging your home or landscape? Tell us your tree root stories in the ‘comments section’ below.

Category Landscaping, Roots, Tree

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