If you frequent the sidewalks in your neighborhood, you’ve more than likely seen a tree with roots that have gone awry and have caused damage to a sidewalk or driveway. Your first thought may be, “Why don’t they get rid of that tree? It’s a hazard.” But cutting trees down because their roots are surfacing is not the only solution. Learn about the alternatives that will benefit both your neighborhood and the tree.
If you are adding a new tree to your yard, there are some things to keep in mind to avoid sidewalk or driveway damage.
A Rule of 10 and 20
Don’t plant a tree closer than 20 feet from the sidewalk if it will grow to a height of over 20 feet. If the tree will grow to a height of lesser than 20 feet, plant it no closer than 10 feet from the sidewalk.
Know Your Roots
For most trees, the root system is roughly the size of the canopy. If you know how large the canopy will be, provide the proper amount of space for its root system.
Know Your Trees
Some trees are prone to surface roots, such as the poplar, silver maple and willow. If sidewalk or driveway damage is a concern, avoid planting trees with surface roots.
Room to Grow
Just as the trunk and branches of the tree will thicken as it grows, so will the roots. Give the roots room to expand and keep this in mind when placing it in relation to sidewalks and driveways.
If your tree is an established piece in your landscape and is causing damage to a sidewalk or driveway, you do have options.
Pruning the roots of a tree make it susceptible to diseases and infestation. Doing so can also affect the structure of the tree, increasing the likelihood that it will blow over during severe weather. In certain cases, you can prune or trim the root system every year or two but this is a very large (and typically costly) commitment.
Get Over It
Through a process called bridging, you can construct the new sidewalk or driveway over the damage caused by the tree. Yes, this leaves a slight bump but it is safe for pedestrians and drivers to maneuver over or around.
If your existing sidewalk or driveway is concrete, you may want to consider a more permeable material such as asphalt, which can be easily repaired and shaped. Concrete is rigid and interference at one point of the poured slab can raise the entire surface area.
Removing the Tree
Depending on the health and structure of the tree, you may need to consider removing the tree completely. This isn’t the most ideal option, due to the benefits a tree brings to its community. If you do need to remove a large tree from your property, look into replacing it with a smaller tree that will have a smaller root system. If you want to know more about whether or not you need to remove a tree from your yard, check out five reasons here.
A certified arborist, like Ostvig Tree Care, can evaluate the health and structural integrity of a tree that is causing damage to your property. Email us at email@example.com for a consultation. Or send us a message or book your tree service through the form below.
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