There’s no tree without roots. It’s how trees get a significant portion of the oxygen, water, and nutrients they need to survive and grow. So the bigger and more spread the root system, the better (and healthier) the tree.
Unfortunately, the ever-spreading roots can pose a few issues if the tree is located within or around power lines, plumbing systems, building foundations, and pavers. As the root volume increases and spreads, the new or bigger roots may lift your pavers, sneak in-between them, push them aside, or even break through the driveway or sidewalk.
Ever-growing tree roots can also cause or worsen cracking in the pavers, necessitating expensive repairs. Or they may create a tripping hazard.
How to Stop Tree Roots Lifting Your Pavers
How can you stop the roots from lifting your pavers? Can you stop them from cracking and eventually damaging the sidewalk or driveway? The following are five easy tips to consider.
Don’t construct a pavement near large trees
A long-term solution is to prevent the damage in the first place. How? By installing your pavers away from large or mature trees.
You see, tree roots expand and increase in number to gather more “food” for the tree. This means two things. First, larger trees need bigger roots in higher numbers. So, the tree roots will increase as the tree becomes bigger. Secondly, trees spread their roots even more when their access to food is restricted. Thus, tree roots are likely to increase around concrete pavers as pavers attempt to limit food access.
As such, a straightforward way to avoid a disaster is to have the pavement 3-6 feet away from the tree. In particular, avoid the “drip line” or the area directly under the tree’s branches.
Put a vertical barrier between the pavers and the ground
This tip may not be practical in the long term for trees that grow to become large, with massive roots. Indeed, it may not even work in the short term for an existing large tree. However, it’s worth a try for trees with smaller roots and root networks.
Purchase a barrier and install it vertically around the tree as if limiting the boundaries of the tree’s roots. Plastic barriers work excellently. Once installed, the wall prevents the roots from growing beyond the boundary, effectively protecting your pavers.
But keep in mind that roots can be very persistent. They almost always find a way around barriers. So, this should be a temporary solution.
Remove the root
You can also stop tree roots lifting your pavers by manually removing the roots. There are two ways how. First, you can dig up the roots and take them out. Alternatively, cut the root close to the tree and throw it away. Both approaches work very well.
The first method involves digging the area around the root to expose large underground roots, then cutting the roots using a trencher or power saw. The roots will die and stop interfering with your pavement. Meanwhile, the second method focuses on above-ground roots already interfering with the pavement. Use a power saw to cut them to maintain a level surface for the pavers.
Make sure to wear protective gear in both cases. But, more importantly, beware that trenchers and power saws can be dangerous.
Kill the roots without killing the tree
You can also kill the roots without cutting them. Two ways to do this are using copper sulfate or herbicides.
Copper sulfate, better known as cupric sulfate, is a bright blue inorganic compound that most people already keep as fertilizer, fungicide, or water treatment salt at home. It’s also commonly used in pipe treatment and pest control. It’s excellent for killing tree roots and only kills one or two roots because it doesn’t travel far.
Herbicides are a little more aggressive, thus requiring greater control. Although they only kill the roots and not the tree, they can kill several roots, potentially adversely affecting the tree’s life. So, consider professional help. An excellent herbicide to stop tree roots lifting your pavers is trifluralin.
Remove the tree
If none of the above four solutions are practical in your case, the option of last resort is to remove the tree altogether.
Ideally, you want to do this before installing the pavement. That’s because removing a portion of the pavement and reinstalling it can be very expensive. Bring in an experienced team to assess the location and advice on cutting the tree and excavating the stump and roots as a permanent solution.
However, you can also remove trees from an existing pavement. Be careful, though, as you don’t want to cause extensive damage to the pavement. Or relocate the tree.
If you want to prevent tree roots from lifting your pavers, it’s best to start early. Ideally, avoid paving close to or directly under trees. Or remove the tree before installing the pavement. However, you can also remove trees on existing pavements or kill the roots by cutting or with a herbicide or copper sulfate.