You are here:

Trees/Do I need to cut down these trees?


Trees close to garage
Trees close to garage  
Hickory with hollow center
Hickory with hollow ce  
QUESTION: We have two healthy trees that are of concern due to their proximity to a garage dug into the slope of a hill.  The walls are poured concrete (6" or 8" thick) and nine feet high, with seven feet under ground. The water oak 12 feet from our garage and is now about 40 feet tall.  The bald cypress is 22 feet away and is about 30 feet tall. They have visible roots heading toward the garage. Do you think that either tree's roots could break the concrete wall so I need to cut one or both down?

The other tree of concern is a hickory with a healthy top. It has a large hollow area in the interior at ground level that goes more about two thirds of the way into the tree.  Some rotted wood is below ground level.  One side of the tree has some fungus on it. The rest of the trunk outside of the hollow area seems solid. I do not see any insect issue like carpenter ants. Can this tree live with a large hollow area, or is it unsafe?

Thanks for the help!

ANSWER: The trees will not damage the garage. They can not grow through the wall and since the roots are in the first 2 feet or so the roots will not grow under the wall. So no need to cut the trees they will not bother the garage.

Any tree that gets a wound can get a decay fungi into the wood. The woody cells are not alive so the fungi will eat away the wood. The living part of a tree are the cells just under the bark called the cambium layer. These re not damaged by the fungi since fungi infects only dead cells. Decay fungi are very slow growing and over time they will extend up inside the tree trunk. This will take many many years. The fires sign that a tree maybe a problem in large limbs breaking off and these limbs are hollow. I do not think you need to worry about this tree. Hickory trees have very hard wood bd the decay fungi will grow very slow in this wood. As long as the foliage is green and full the tree will grow many many years. The tree will be fine and is safe

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thank you for your response!  My husband said our contractors cautioned him that tree roots seeking water (coming off the garage)would apply pressure and potentially crack the concrete.  We put in gutters and downspouts to carry the water away. My husband is still concerned, as a broken wall would be a very expensive repair and the roots are getting fairly large.  Is it because our walls were poured that you feel they are safe?  Is concrete block more vulnerable to probing tree roots? (Much like the roots of vines that creep up brick houses and damage grout?)

Thank you for your time!

It is less of a potential problem with a poured wall than a block wall. Block walls can get cracks in them and IF there were moisture in the wall the root could grow that way. BUT with the poured wall it should be dry and no cracks in the mortar so I can not see that you will have any problem with this.

Sorry about the delay--the flue has gotten into my house.


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jim Hyland


I am an expert in Forestry, Forest Entomology, Forest Pest Control, and Forest Health. Extensive knowledge in Identification of insects and diseases of trees. Expert on Bark beetles and other insects that attack forests. Also a Registrated Forester with extensive knowledge in the management and care of forests.


34 years as State Pest Management Chief in a Southern state. Extensive knowledge in Forestry.

BS with major in Forest Management and Entomology
Registered Forester
Certified Pesticide Appicator

©2016 All rights reserved.