Trees are an essential element of an attractive landscape. They bring new color and life to the surrounding environment while improving your home’s curb appeal in the process.
There are times, however, when a tree’s roots can become a problem. If the roots begin to grow under your sidewalk, they can damage or destroy the concrete. (The picture above is an extreme example.) To make matters worse, it’s often difficult to fix the problem. Simply replacing the sidewalk will only mask the issue, as the roots will likely regrow.
So, how can you can protect your sidewalk from invasive tree roots?
Choose the Right Trees
The most effective way to protect your sidewalk from invasive tree roots is to plant the right type of trees in your landscape. Some of the worst trees include Willows, American Elm and Silver Maple, all of which have highly invasive root structures.
If you’re planning your landscape, avoid these trees and, instead, choose a different variety. You can get recommendations and advice from a local plant nursery. When choosing trees, consider root growth as well as shade, sun and space requirements.
Plant Away From Sidewalk
Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that planting trees close to your sidewalk will increase the risk of root-related damage. By planting trees farther away from your sidewalk, you’ll provide the roots with enough space to grow without damaging the concrete.
Ideally, you should give most trees at least 15 feet of clearance on all sides.
Water Your Trees
Another tip to protect your sidewalk from invasive roots is to water your trees. Like plants, roots provide trees with moisture and nutrients. If a tree becomes dehydrated, its roots will spread wider throughout the soil as they search for moisture.
Unfortunately, this often results in roots breaking through sidewalks or underground utilities. This problem is easily avoided by ensuring that your trees are properly hydrated.
The best way to do this is to set up a garden hose with the end at the base of your tree. Turn it on so that there is a small flow of water and leave it for 20-30 minutes. This will soak the root ball and the area surrounding it deep into the soil.
This will encourage the roots to grow deeper into the soil instead of spreading out at the surface to get enough water and nutrients.
If you see roots beginning to work their way into your sidewalk, consider cutting them. Some homeowners are hesitant to cut tree roots, fearing it will harm or kill their trees. While true for some varieties, other types of trees can withstand root damage without ill effect. Assuming you have one of these varieties growing in your landscape, you can cut the roots without fear of it killing the tree.
If we can help with any of your tree care needs give us a call at 512-846-2535 or 512-940-0799 or