Can Palm Tree Roots Damage a Foundation?

Can Palm Tree Roots Damage a Foundation

Planting palm trees in your yard adds appeal to the yard. But one concern that holds homeowners back from getting hands over these trees is their ever-spreading roots. They fear that the roots will damage the structures around them. But can palm tree roots damage a foundation?

Once the roots overcrowd the nearby concrete surfaces, the foundation can be damaged. In some cases, they become sloppy. Before the roots enclose all structures, let’s get to know how to get rid of them. 

Can Palm Tree Roots Damage A Foundation? 

Palm tree roots grown in small quantities do not damage concrete foundations. But adult palm roots can overcrowd the structures nearby if you plant the trees too close to the foundations. And their pressure or weight can weaken the integrity of the structures. 

Can Palm Tree Roots Damage a Foundation

As the palm roots are fibrous in nature, they tend to absorb more water than the woody roots. If such watery roots reach the structures nearby, the moisture can cause damage to your sidewalks, sewage pipes, and other surfaces. 

To avoid the spread of palm tree roots near pools, walkways, and any other foundation, plant the trees 11 feet away from them. It reduces the probability of the roots spreading over the structures and weakens them.

Watch the video for better clarity on the issue:

How to Tell If Palm Tree Roots Are Damaging Foundation? 

Palm tree roots are not rapidly invasive, unlike other deep and thick tree roots. Hence, it sometimes is challenging to notice the damaging signs it causes. But here are some common indicators of structural damage:

Can Palm Tree Roots Damage a Foundation
  • The sidewalks may appear damp as the root water can seep through the structure. 
  • There will be cracks on the surfaces due to the pressure from the roots.

  • If the roots have disrupted the soil below the foundations, they will appear uneven or sloppy.  
  • Note that clogged pipes or leakage in the sewage pipes can be a consequence of root invasion.

  • Sometimes, you might notice palm roots peeping through the structures or their cracks.

How to Remove Palm Tree Roots? 

The best way to stop palm roots from damaging the structure is to remove the stump. For that, you need to fall or cut the tree first. Then, here are the methods you can follow to kill the stump and prevent root growth:

Method-1: Rot the Stump 

To kill the invasive roots faster, you can rot the palm tree stump. And to speed up the stump decomposition, follow the process below:

Can Palm Tree Roots Damage a Foundation
  • Buy a stump remover that is high in potassium nitrate. 
  • Drill 12-inch deeper holes in the stump in a circumference.
  • To make the palm tree roots exposed, dig out the soil around them. 
  • Pour the stump remover mix into the holes and over the roots.
  • Cover the tree stump and roots with a thick layer of mulch.
  • After six weeks, the stump will not be sturdy to the ground, and you can easily dig it out. Also, the roots will rot and stop their growth. 

Method-2: Dig the Stump

If you are okay with manual labor, this DIY can be your best bet to prevent foundation damage by palm roots. Wear gloves and get into the process as described:

Can Palm Tree Roots Damage a Foundation
  • Using a shovel, loosen the soil around the roots and stump, digging a few inches deep will be enough to expose the roots.
  • Detangle the surface roots with a saw or knife. If possible, pull them out.

  • Again loosen the soil around the stump and go deeper to reach as many roots as possible.

  • Place a crowbar underneath the stump, and with a little pressure, lift the stump out. 

Method-3: Use Stump Grinder 

To make the stump removal a snap, you can use a stump grinding machine. Feel free to rent it for a day and do the following things:

Can Palm Tree Roots Damage a Foundation

Step 1: Preparation 

When you run the grinder, wood chips and debris will fly everywhere. In order to be safe from them, wear safety goggles, boots, and gloves. Make sure you have enough space around to use the machine properly.

Step 2: Loosen the Soil

To give the grinder more advantage over the stump, loosen the soil around the roots and stump with a shovel. Once you expose the stump, trim down the upper base of the stump using a chainsaw.

Step 3: Run Grinder

From different angles, go over the stump with the grinding machine. Each time go approximately 3 inches deeper to loosen the stump. Keep moving the grinder around the stump until you can dig it out easily.

Step 4: Treat the Ground 

After you have pulled the stump out, spread rock salt over the roots. Then, pour hot water around the surface. And cover it with mulch and soil.

After a few weeks, the salt mix will spread through the roots and kill them. However, if you have other plants around, avoid using the rock salt. Or else the nearby vegetation will die because of extreme salt levels in the soil.


As palm tree roots appear fibrous, many wonders, “Can palm tree roots damage a foundation” or not? Although it is not a common occurrence, poorly-maintained roots can be invasive toward the solid structure. The probability increases if you plant trees close to the foundation. 

In order to prevent damaging the structural integrity, inspect them for cracks. If you find any, get rid of the palm tree as soon as possible. 

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q’s):

How far do palm tree roots spread?

Unlike other tree roots, palm roots spread horizontally instead of vertically. Hence, they spread 2-3 feet deeper in the soil. But horizontally, they can grow as long as their branch. 

Will palm tree roots grow back after you cut them?

As long as you have correctly cut and dug out palm tree roots, they will not regenerate. However, if you trim them down, they might grow back. So, it is better to rot them to prevent root growth.

Do palm tree roots damage the pool? 

Palm tree roots grow in search of water. So, if there is a pool nearby, the roots will spread and enclose the pool structure. Gradually, it can damage the pool surface. 

Md Biajid

Meet Mia Biajid, a passionate nature lover. Particularly, he has a deep-rooted connection to the plant. Mia loves to spend time exploring forests and uncovering the secrets held within trees. He always inspires others to appreciate and protect our precious part of the ecosystem.

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