A home isn’t a home without a foundation that can support it safely and without incident. However, factors such as cracks, heat, moisture, and roots can weaken your foundation to where it isn’t safe. The only option is to install a root barrier to make it safe, but what should you expect to pay for installation?
The average homeowner can expect to pay at least $1,000 to install a root barrier installation at a rate of $60-$70 per foot. Professionals must install root barriers at least 30”-36” deep, and the majority of this cost comes from labor. Root barrier installation takes between ½ day, and 2 days of digging, installation, and refilling the trench.
It is labor-intensive and that is why it is expensive to hire a professional to install your root barrier. Root barriers are worth the cost because they protect your foundation from roots that can damage it. Follow along as we explore all of the cost factors that determine how much your root barrier installation will cost.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Root Barrier?
- How Much Does It Cost To Install a Root Barrier?
- Root Inhibitor Chemical
- What Can I Use As a Root Barrier?
- How Long Do Root Barriers Last?
- Do I Need a Root Barrier For Bamboo?
- Related Questions
- Summing It Up
What Is a Root Barrier?
A root barrier is a protective wall that you install underground so that roots don’t grow, spread, and damage your home. The root barrier works to steer deep roots away from your foundation to protect it from damage. This can save you between $3,000 and $10,000 or more in foundation repairs that root damage can cause.
It is only safe to live in a house with foundation problems if there are minor cracks, otherwise, it can be quite dangerous. Install a root barrier to ensure that roots don’t weaken or poke through the foundation wall. Some roots can spread even further and directly damage your home’s plumbing which can lead to thousands of dollars in repairs.
You can also choose to treat your roots with a root inhibitor chemical that can prevent the spread of roots. Otherwise, most homeowners choose root screens, traps, or deflectors to direct roots away from their foundation.
How Much Does It Cost To Install a Root Barrier?
The average homeowner spends $1,000 or more to install a root barrier with a professional. Costs are so high because of how labor-intensive the project is, but it varies based on hours. These costs include the root barrier, digging costs, installation, and labor which can take several days.
It is much cheaper to treat your roots with a chemical root inhibitor, but those aren’t as effective. They require no installation, but they don’t directly divert roots the way that a proper barrier does. Let’s take a look at what you can expect to pay to install a root barrier for your foundation’s health.
Concrete Root Barrier
You can expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,000 for a professional to install a concrete root barrier. They are expensive because the professionals have to dig a deep trench and then pour concrete into it. Concrete root barriers use a lot of material because you need to fill between 30 and 60 inches of the ground with concrete.
That is a lot of concrete, and it adds up when considering that it takes at least one day to pour. They dig a trench that goes down at least 3-5 feet, and then they pour the concrete to fill it. Concrete is arguably the best root barrier because roots cannot penetrate it.
However, concrete root barrier installation costs can exceed $3,000 if you have a lot of lands to cover. This is also true if you have to dig deeper than 3-4 feet as they take more time, and even more tools. Concrete root barriers are your best bet to completely steer roots away from your foundation.
Metal Root Barrier
Metal root barriers cost at least $1,000, but they can exceed $1,500 or more due to labor costs. You can depend on metal root barriers because they don’t break down quite as quickly as plastic barriers. It all depends on how much moisture and rain you get based on your local climate.
Metal root barriers can succumb to rust, but that doesn’t affect its root blocking performance. A metal barrier doesn’t lose its efficacy if it is covered in rust because it generally doesn’t fall apart. Unless there is a hole in your metal root barrier, no roots will be able to creep through to your foundation.
Labor isn’t any more intensive for metal root barriers because installation is no different than plastic barriers. However, it is cheaper than a concrete barrier because pouring concrete takes longer than putting a metal sheet in the ground. Costs can reach $2,000 to install a metal root barrier, but the average homeowner spends $1,200-$1,500.
Plastic Root Barrier
Invest in a plastic root barrier if you want effective protection without having to spend a fortune on installation. The average homeowner will spend $1,000 on a plastic root barrier, and it’s rare to spend more than $1,350. Plastic root barriers act to deflect the growth of roots, and they are the easiest barrier to install.
You only have to worry about moisture if you’ve had a plastic root barrier for 10 years or more. That is because plastic can eventually weaken if it’s taken on a lot of moisture or sunlight over time. However, plastic root barriers generally go down at least 36-60 inches beneath the surface, so moisture doesn’t affect the entire length.
Costs are lower with plastic root barriers because of the low cost of the barrier itself which is lower than concrete or metal. You may spend as little as $40 on materials for a plastic root barrier, and the rest of the costs come down to labor and installation. Consider a plastic root barrier if you want to protect your foundation without spending as much as metal or concrete barrier.
Average Cost (With Installation)
Root Inhibitor Chemical
You can expect to pay between $68 and $120 or more for a root inhibitor chemical to protect your foundation. Costs vary between brands as well as the volume of chemicals in the bottle or jug that you purchase. This option is great because you can apply root inhibitor chemicals yourself without the help of a professional.
However, chemical treatments are not quite as effective as a physical root barrier wall. That is because the wall directly protects your foundation, whereas root inhibitor chemicals only affect the tree. The chemicals minimize the root growth of trees with tap roots that can grow 30 inches deep or more.
Root inhibitor chemicals eventually break down when they are exposed to the heat and air over time. That means that you’ll have to consistently apply root inhibitor chemicals to effectively treat your roots. Root inhibitor chemicals are effective, but they require more maintenance and reoccurring application than root barriers.
What Can I Use As a Root Barrier?
You can use fiberglass, pieces of plastic, or plastic sheets as a root barrier. Please note that these alternatives are not as effective as using a traditional root barrier or screen. However, they do work if you put them deep enough in the ground and cover the soil at the top.
This can prevent roots from working their way to the top or through the soil and into the foundation. However, pieces of plastic and plastic sheets can eventually break down from prolonged exposure to moisture. Sunny states, such as California and Florida, are not ideal for using makeshift root barriers as they break down quickly.
However, you can make a successful homemade root barrier if you cut a long length of metal. As long as the length of the metal can extend between 3 and 5 feet beneath the ground, it can successfully deflect roots.
How Long Do Root Barriers Last?
A physical root barrier made of metal or plastic can last you 5-10 years or longer. Concrete root barriers last the longest because concrete never stops curing once it has been poured. That is why concrete is the best option for a root barrier, but it can weaken if the concrete cracks and lets moisture in.
However, root inhibitor chemicals don’t last for exceptionally long before you need to apply them again. That is their biggest downside, and there is no ironclad rule for how long you can expect a chemical to last. Generally, root inhibitor chemicals only last as long as they can without receiving too much moisture or humidity.
Rain, humidity, and backflow of water can all but make your root inhibitor chemical useless. This is a problem if you are looking for a root barrier that will last you for years to come. You may need to add more root inhibitor chemicals as often as every few weeks or months to prevent roots from popping out.
Do I Need a Root Barrier For Bamboo?
Yes, you need a root barrier for bamboo even though its roots don’t grow too deep. It is cheaper to install a root barrier for bamboo trees because you don’t have to dig nearly as deep. Bamboo tree roots only extend 12 inches below the surface, generally, and that’s much more shallow than other trees.
Digging is one of the biggest costs in root barrier installation, so that alone can save you several hundred dollars. That means that you might spend as little as $500-$800 to install a root barrier for a bamboo tree, but it could be more. It is always wise to dig a trench that is deeper than you expect roots to grow just in case the roots extend deeper.
Otherwise, the root barrier will be useless and your foundation may still be at risk from stray roots. If bamboo is the only nearby tree, your root barrier installation should be shallow, cheap, easy, and completed quickly.
Do root barriers work?
Yes, root barriers work to successfully protect your foundation, and they effectively steer roots away from your foundation. Root barriers don’t prevent roots from growing and extending, they simply prevent them from growing towards the foundation. However, you can damage the tree above the ground if the professional doesn’t install the root barrier properly.
How deep should a root barrier be?
You need to put your root barrier at least 30 inches beneath the ground for proper protection. They must also go above the top of the soil or else roots still have the chance to come through. These specifications ensure that roots from large trees cannot reach the surface as they often go 30 inches down or deeper.
Do root barriers kill trees?
Root barriers can hinder how well a tree grows and that can eventually cause the tree to die over time. Some trees cannot grow if their roots are obstructed by obstacles, and that includes root barriers. There is a fine line, however, because root barriers are useless if they don’t surround the area that roots grow.
What is the best root barrier?
Concrete is the best root barrier because there is no way for roots to penetrate it. However, plastic and metal root barriers work just as well if you install them deeply enough in the ground. Root inhibitor chemicals are the least effective root barrier that you can use.
Summing It Up
It costs between $1,000 and $2,000 to install a root barrier system based on which kind you choose. Concrete root barriers are the most expensive because of the high price of concrete, but they are also the most effective. Root inhibitor chemicals are the cheapest because a bottle costs $120 at the most, but their results are also temporary.
The majority of the cost comes from labor, and that is due to the ½ day to 2 day project time most professionals take. It is cheaper to install root barriers for bamboo trees because bamboo rarely extends more than 12 inches below the ground’s surface. Root barriers are a worthy investment because they work to protect your home’s foundation and plumbing.