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National Arborists
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As certain tree species mature it’s not uncommon to see tree root damage to sidewalks and driveways. Tree roots from mature trees can damage concrete and asphalt sidewalks and driveways. The problem of tree root damage to sidewalks and driveways is usually due to the wrong tree being planted too close to the sidewalk or driveway. The damage caused by tree roots to sidewalks and driveways is a liability for property owners and can be costly to repair. The only permanent solution to tree root damage to sidewalks and driveways is to remove the tree. There are other solutions to tree root damage to sidewalks and driveways, but a property owner should realize that these may be temporary fixes to the tree root damage.

Root Pruning or Root Cutting

Pruning or cutting tree roots causing damage to sidewalks or driveways will take care of the problem for a while, but is not without some risks. Root pruning could end up destabilizing the tree. Generally speaking, the farther from the tree the roots are cut, the better it is for the health of the tree. Cutting roots close to a tree increases the chances of the tree being blown over in high winds. If tree roots must be cut the cuts should be as clean as possible. The tree can develop lateral roots if the roots are cut cleanly, but jagged cuts could lead to decay entering the root zone of the tree.

Root Barriers

Root barriers are used to redirect tree roots away from sidewalks and driveways. Root barriers are either mechanical or chemical in nature. Mechanical root barriers redirect tree roots by their mere presence. Roots are directed away from, or far below, the sidewalk or driveway. Chemical root barriers inhibit root growth from occurring near the root barrier.

Sidewalk or Driveway Diversion

Occasionally, it’s possible to move the pavement rather than cut the tree roots. This is easier to do with sidewalks than with driveways, and should be considered whenever possible. Redirecting the pavement will eliminate the need to damage the tree by cutting the tree roots.

Alternative Sidewalk or Driveway Construction

It may be easier to accommodate tree roots if the sidewalk or driveway were constructed of paving bricks or stone. Over time the tree roots would probably still raise the paving bricks or stone, but the repair would be less costly and it may be possible to elevate the paving bricks or stone to accommodate continued root growth.

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