Are roots a danger, how to remove them

A neighbor moved into her townhouse 20 years ago and there were no roots in her backyard.
Now they have a beautiful yard with perfect grass and benches facing the woods and other nice stuff, but roots have reached into the yard, one 40 feet from where it surfaces, which is about 10 feet from the closest tree, all of which are outside their property.
There are 4 other root which have gone 20 feet.
The part of the roots that show start off neear the trees as about 3 inches wide, but most of them is under the grournd. They must be 6 inches in diameter.
The trees are growing in the stream bed and the base of the trees are 2 to 4 feet below the level of their lawn. That means the roots start out that deep but rise to the surface within 10 feet of the tree (assuming it's the closest tree. The sun was in my eyes and I haven't identified any of the trees.)
A She would like to get rid of them because the yard would be nicer.
B. She is worried that they are heading for her basement, one that is 6.5 feet below grade, with a one fooot high window at ground level, It's made with cinder blocks.
This is the big, more important question? Are the roots going to damage her foundation?
I suggested cutting a 6" gap in the big roots which would stop them from growing, but she said something else bad would happen and she told me what it was, but the phone was noisy and I missed it. Is she right?
Problem A, again. As to getting rid of the roots, would they be hard to dig up? I assume that even though sub-roots aren't coming out of the top, they are coming out of the bottom and holding the bigger root in place, and that every foot will be a struggle.
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On 5/11/2015 7:33 PM, micky wrote:

I'd cut them off myself. Since trees are not even on her property she can't harm the trees. I've done it to my own trees.
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On 05/11/2015 06:33 PM, micky wrote:

Not too far from here, the city cut some tree roots when they did street work. Next big storm, the tree fell over.
Though the roots might be a bit unsightly, it's probably better to allow them than to have to tree fall over on her house.
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wrote:

Trees have roots. You cant have trees without roots. If there's one particular spot where people trip on the root, toss some topsoil over it. If you remove roots, the tree will die or can actually tip over from a storm. There are some things in nature that we can not control!
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snipped-for-privacy@spamblocked.com writes:

I think it's very unlikely that cutting one root will kill the tree or cause it to fall over.
As far as it damaging the foundation, also very unlikely. Covering the root is just as bad as cutting it.
So, I say cut it if it bothers you. Don't do that to a rare specimen, but otherwise have at it.
--
Dan Espen

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wrote:

WHY???????
Roots are made to be underground. Some just seem to surface, probably due to a rock or another obstruction.
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snipped-for-privacy@spamblocked.com writes:

Well, this is from memory, but once roots surface they form bark. Bury it and it's just like piling dirt around the base of a tree.
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Dan Espen

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On 5/11/2015 8:55 PM, Dan Espen wrote:

Actually, Jerry is mostly correct. There are three solutions to surfacing tree roots.
1) Remove the tree and it's root system 2) Place 4 inches of soil over the root system 3) Place 4 inches of mulch over the root system
Cutting one root usually doesn't harm the tree (depending on size of root) but it will eventually grow back.
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Yes, eventually.
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and having to visit 10 different news stands to pickup each one.
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wrote:

That's not necessarily true. Some tree (types) have more roots than others. One thing most people dont know, is that tree roots generally travel out as far as the branches. So, if the branches hang over your house, the roots are probably up to the foundation. If the branches are not over the house, there is little to worry about as far as the foundation.
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On 05/11/2015 07:33 PM, micky wrote:

I've seen the damage tree roots have done to foundations and I've seen the damage caused by storms so yes, fire up the Stihl and take that bad boy down.
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On Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 4:39:23 AM UTC-4, Mayhem wrote:

most homes live in peaceful co existence withtree roots.
in my back yard llives a sycamore, it was a mature tree when the homes were built in 1950.
i addeded a basement toilet in 1991 and tore up some of the basement floor for the plumbingdrain connection.
some of the roots were so large i used a chainsaw on them, and these were 7 to 8 feet under the surface plus at leaset 3 feet under the basement floor....
mature trees add thousands to property values, enhancing the appearance of your home and helping shade it from sun etc.
surface tree roots are mostly a cosmetic issue.......
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The first thing I'd want to know is how old is your neighbor?
If your neighbor only has 10-20 years left, they shouldn't worry about it.
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clipped

I would do nothing to the trees without expert advice, because:
If the trees drink a lot, they might help keep a balance of groundwater in yard.
Cutting roots often prompts plant to grow more! It is called root pruning.
Surface roots, if injured (by mowers, etc.) will grow a new stem/plant from the injured spot.
That said, the variety, height and distance from building would help in estimating danger to the basement.
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On Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 9:26:37 AM UTC-4, NorMinn wrote:
A lot we don't know here. Starting with, it's a townhouse, which, in some cases, means it's a condo type arrangement where the association has control over the outside stuff. Regarding damaging the foundation, sure they could if the trees are close enough that the roots can get there. From the description, it's not clear what the distance is, but it sounds kind of far.
Finally, removing tress roots like that is not an easy job. I sure wouldn't want to have to do it, unless absolutely necessary. As some have suggested, it may be easier to bring in a load of topsoil, cover them up and plant a new lawn. That may only be a temporary solution though, but it would probably be many years before the problem resurfaces.
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