Big oak and your foundation

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This might be the wrong place for this.
We had an oak tree that was about 20 years old or more in 1955. An "itinerant gardner" told my mother it needed a ditch right next to the trunk more than a foot across and more than a foot down. She wasn't sure if she really needed it, but did it. 52 years later the tree is still healthy and beautiful.
I only bring this up because I wonder if somehow this might make the roots go deeper, since the trunk might think the ground/air boundary is more than a foot lower than it is. I just made this up now so assume I'm wrong until someone trustworthy says I'm right.
There was no side walk damage when I was there -- It was only 6 feet away -- although it might have been ripped up and repoured. The driveway is 30 feet away and looked fine.

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