Problems with tree roots
A tree in my street is damaging the pavement, that action should I take?
All enquiries relating to tree roots causing alleged damage to publicly owned highways are dealt with by the Street Scene Management Group.
They regularly inspect highways for such damage, and subsequently rectify any defects, as they feel appropriate in line with their tolerance levels.
Tell the Council about a tree damaging the pavement.
I have a big tree near my property, I am worried about the damage the roots may be doing to my house, what should I do?
Tree roots may potentially cause damage to built structures in two ways:
Direct damage - For example this is when the physical expansion of tree roots lifts paving stonesn or cracks walls. Due to the weight of a house no amount of physical expansion will affect it - but garden walls and small structures such as garages or outbuildings may be at risk.
Indirect damage - Large built structures including houses which are sited on clay soils can be affected by a tree's removal of moisture. Clay soil shrinks as water is extracted from it and this can lead to subsidence. If a building has been built on clay soil near an existing tree, and that tree is then removed, the soil may expand which can cause heave. The risk of such damage may be greater with older properties. Modern building standards mean that the risk to newer buildings is less.
Tree-related subsidence is usually seasonal, with cracks appearing in the summer months as the tree uses the water, and then closing in the winter months as rain wets the soil.
London Borough of Richmond soil types - Richmond has a small number of localised areas of clay soil and the risk of tree related indirect damage or subsidence/heave is therefore low. However, direct damage to shallow footed structures may occur whatever the soil type.
If you think that you are experiencing damage relating to tree roots, it is recommended that you contact your building insurers, who will be able to give advice on the procedure for investigating the extent of the problem (for example by commissioning the services of a structural engineer), and how to go about making a claim for repairs where necessary.
The tree roots are blocking my drains, what can I do?
It is unusual for roots to physically break drains and associated pipe work. However, tree roots are opportunistic and if an old pipe with poor joints is leaking into the surrounding soil this will attract the roots that may then exploit the existing weakness. Then, when repairs are required, a proliferation of tree roots often leads to the blame being placed with a nearby tree. However replacement of faulty drains/pipes with modern materials will usually eliminate the leak and stop problems from reoccurring.
If you are experiencing problems with tree roots and drains, contact your water service provider, who will be able to advise of the best course of action.
A tree is lifting paving slabs/affecting my drive should I remove the roots?
We advise against the cutting of tree roots as it may affect the tree's health and stability, advice can be sought by contacting an Arboriculturalist, who will be able to provide advice on the best course of action. Find an Arboricultural Associations Approved Consultant.
If a tree is covered by a Tree Preservation Order, or if it stands in a Conservation Area an application will be required before root pruning can take place. The tree application form is available here.
Contact Customer Services
For tree enquiries, contact our Customer Services Team.
Telephone: 0845 612 2660
Our office hours are 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.
Outside these hours for emergencies such as fallen trees, telephone Careline on 0845 600 7413.