Tree roots under driveway

Building a Retaining Wall Near Trees? Or Planting Near a Wall?

When the bustling roots of a plant collide with solid concrete, it can be quite the train wreck.

Without careful planning, planting a tree near a retaining wall, or adding one near a mature tree, can spell trouble for both.

That’s why Chin from California wanted to make sure she got it right. She reached out to ask how to level out her yard before building and keep her Aleppo pine unscathed in the process.

The two can live in harmony. Here’s everything you need to know about making the relationship work.

What to Do About Retaining Walls Near Trees or Tree Roots

Both building and planting take lots of time and energy. Before you start, make sure you get the best outcome by reading this.

Can I build a retaining wall over tree roots or around existing trees?

While you can’t lay concrete or set stones on established roots, you can surround your plant with a carefully planned enclosure.

Should I cut the tree roots before building?

Ideally, it’s best if you don’t. When you start trimming, you can deprive the plant of vital water and nutrients. You can also affect the tree’s stability, increasing the likelihood of failure. Plus, there’s no way to guarantee that the loss of roots won’t damage or even kill the tree later.

If you can, build the wall past the farthest spread roots. Of course, that’s not always an option, especially since they can grow 10, 15 or even 20-plus feet beyond the trunk.

Before attempting to prune roots, read this to learn what you should and shouldn’t cut. You should never make cuts near the trunk or in the drip line, the area under the canopy.

Bear in mind that cutting roots is challenging and risky, so if you’re not 100% confident about what to remove, call an ISA certified arborist®. Most reputable companies, like Davey, over free consultations.

Can tree roots do damage to retaining walls?

It may seem like they are no match for durable stone or concrete, but woody roots can do real damage.

Much of a tree’s growth happens underground and out of sight. The below-ground roots that we don’t see can sneak under the structure to crack or upheave it if it’s too close.

Can I plant trees near retaining walls?

It’s best when the two are as far away from each other as possible.

If you want to plant a new tree, find a spot that’s as far away from the wall as the plant will be once it’s fully grown. So, if your new tree will reach 15 feet tall, choose a planting spot at least 15 feet away.

What are the best trees or plants for the top of retaining walls?

Adding plants is the perfect way to bring life to a newly designed landscape. Perennials and shrubs are usually the best choices to plant close to retaining walls.

If you’re set on adding a tree for a bigger burst of green, choose a small tree, like one of the ones below. And plant those near, not on top of, the wall.

HERE AT A GARDEN FOR THE HOUSE, there’s no shortage of landscaping challenges. Take the north end of the Rose Garden, where a glorious old maple tree grows on a steep slope. I couldn’t get grass to grow at the tree’s shallow roots, yet weeds flourished there. The cure? A retaining wall, built half-way round the tree:

The wall, built by a professional, and composed exclusively from stones I found while digging in the Woodland Garden, provides not only architectural interest, but a level bed for planting, too. If you have need for a similar wall, perhaps the following pictures will serve as a tutorial of sorts.

To start this project, I indicated with spray-paint the curve of the wall. Then the contractor proceeded to dig a 5-inch-deep trench along my outline, skipping over any exposed roots.

Into the trench went the largest stones. Layering continued until the top of the wall reached the base of the tree.

Because good drainage is essential to any kind of soil retainment, pea gravel was poured directly behind the wall, to a depth of 6 inches.

Now, you might wonder if covering the roots this way will hurt a tree. It won’t. The layer of gravel and the well-draining compost permit roots to breathe. Furthermore, roots are not injured during construction.

If you have a tree that grows on a hillside, and wish to make a garden beneath its leafy canopy, do consider building a demi-lune wall at the tree’s base. It’s the only way to make “under-planting” a real possibility.

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How to Replace Grass with Concrete

The appeal of grass makes sense. It’s soft on the feet, looks pretty, and provides a place for children and pets to play. The grass isn’t very practical. You can’t store anything on top of the grass, you can’t park vehicles on it, and you can’t use it when you need a hard or level surface. If those are your needs grass isn’t very suitable – but concrete is.

For several reasons, you may decide you want to rip up grass and put in concrete to give your more area for vehicles, workspace, or other options. If you cut the grass down and schlep concrete over it, you will not get a very good finished product. Let’s learn the proper way to replace grass with concrete.

What to Consider When You Replace Grass with Concrete

Your first step is to kill the grass as dead as dead can be. Failure to completely kill the grass can have serious consequences on your future paving job and may negate the whole job. You can utilize commercial lawn killer for quick results, but if you have time on your hands, you can kill off your grass in a more environmentally-friendly manner by covering the grass with dark tarps for several weeks.

Once you’re certain the grass is dead, you can remove all the dead grass. Dig deep to ensure you’ve pulled up all the roots. If you have a lot of lawn, consider a sod cutter or renting a machine.

After you’ve ripped up the grass, you need to prepare the site. Depending on the job this could include adding new fill soil and re-sloping the area. Regardless of where you’re adding concrete, you want a smooth, level area for install whenever possible. This is best accomplished by a professional.

After the site has been prepped by a professional, you’re ready to pour. Enright Asphalt knows exactly how to tackle a job in your local environment. You can install your concrete if you have an extensive paving knowledge and the job isn’t too large.

Voila! What was once grass is now concrete. If any of the parts of this job are outside of your comfort range don’t put it all on yourself – Enright Asphalt is here to help. We will put our local knowledge and expertise to give you a great final looking product. Now you have all the concrete you need.

Tree Roots Are Buckling My Concrete Driveway

72 Tree Removal ServicesFollow Jan 16, 2018 · 4 min read

Tree roots constantly seek a water source, in doing so, they can spread very deep or very shallow and in a very large radius from the trunk. When roots spread at shallow depths, they will find their way under asphalt, sidewalks, and yes, driveways.

As the roots naturally expand and thicken, they will displace everything around them creating tremendous potential energy. This energy is usually released upward (path of least resistance), resulting in the breaking, cracking, warping, or buckling of whatever structure is above.

Here, we will discuss measures you can take to repair damaged concrete, remove damaging roots, and how to avoid this issue in the future.

How Much of the Tree’s Roots Can Be Removed

The answer to this isn’t quite as simple as it may seem. Here are some factors to consider:

Tree Roots Three Inches or More in Diameter — When cutting roots this size, they typically will not grow back. However, a wound this large leaves the root susceptible to insect and disease. Often times, this allows rot to reach all the way back to the trunk, seriously compromising the health of the tree.

Tree Roots Less Than Two Inches in Diameter — Tree roots this size are typically able to regenerate. Removing them will only e a temporary fix.

Tree Roots Grow Far and Wide — Typically, you will find that one inch converts to about a foot and a half. That is, for every inch at DBH (Diameter at Breast Height — measured 4.5 feet above the ground), the roots will extend up to a foot and a half away from the tree trunk. A twelve inch trunk at DBH means roots are extending up to eighteen feet away from the trunk in every direction.

Tree Roots Are Sensitive to Disturbance — Tree roots seek out uncompacted soil rich in oxygen (like the soil under sidewalks and driveways). When the soil underneath a tree is compacted by heavy machinery or used as a storage area for a construction site, the roots beneath the surface are literally being choked to death. Eventually, this will result in the decline of the tree’s health, leading to its death.

Tree Roots Under the Driveway — Roots provide structural integrity to a tree. If they have grown under the driveway, the driveway is now a part of its structural integrity. Depending on the size and depth of the roots, removing them may lead to the falling of the tree in severe weather.

More often than not, by the time tree roots have buckled your driveway, you may be faced with the ultimate removal of the tree, if you are to break up and re-lay the affected portion of the driveway.

How to Repair Your Driveway and Save Tree Roots

If the tree is a keeper in your landscape and the roots in question are vital to its survival, there are construction options or methods which will allow the coexistence of the roots and your driveway. Here is one of the multiple options you may use:

Aggregate Surfacing — This technique requires the cutting and careful removal of the damaged concrete. Once the concrete has been removed, the surface below is covered with driveway fabric (aka: geotextile fabric), then four to five inches of dense grade aggregate (DGA) or road stone. The project is completed by using edging along the sides to prevent the aggregate from spreading laterally.

Tree Species, Watering, and Location Matter

Ultimately, it is the lack of planning or the proper information to form a plan that lead to situations such as these. Before planting a tree, you should be aware of its species, potential growth, root spread capacity, and if its roots are typically classified as invasive or not.

Location is a key factor in the survival of any tree or plant. Planting a tree too close to a structure is like inviting a bull into a china cabinet. As trees grow, they instinctively seek out water sources, expand their canopies, and potentially wreak havoc on the structure they were planted next to.

Once a tree is planted, frequent watering will help its root system to grow deeper. Shallow root systems often reflect insufficient watering or compacted soil further beneath the surface.

Professional Tree and Tree Root Removal

While the solution you choose may be an easy one, innocent mistakes may lead to a much more serious situation as your tree’s health declines and ultimately dies.

Before any steps are taken to remove a tree or a portion of its root system, it is highly recommended to seek the advice of a certified arborist. An arborist is a tree professional trained to spot trouble pertaining to tree issues and how to efficiently resolve them.

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Tips and Tricks

You want your home to look so stunning that it makes the neighborhood talk. And to your knowledge, you have accomplished just that. Your yard boasts a verdant lawn, lush flowerbeds, and a group of gorgeous, mature trees. You have placed everything just so for maximum aesthetic effect.

However, you’ve notice those trees’ roots growing ever closer to your foundation, your driveway, or your main sewer line, and you feel a little nervous. You’ve heard stories about tree roots breaking through these items and causing expensive repairs-and you don’t want to share in that experience.

Below, we’ll outline the signs that tree roots have infiltrated your home’s structures. We’ll also tell you how to remedy the problem.

When Tree Roots Invade Your Foundation

Roots rarely cause significant damage to concrete foundations. Occasionally, roots may find their way through existing cracks and enlarge them. But as long as you maintain your foundation, you’re unlikely to have any trouble with tree roots.

However, if you have particularly strong trees, you may have the rare opportunity to see Mother Nature’s inexorable (if somewhat slow) fury unleashed on your home. You’ll notice signs like the following:

  • Cracks in your foundation’s floor

  • Mostly vertical cracks in your foundation’s walls

  • Cracked or shattered windows with no other evidence of trauma

  • Uneven door and window frames

  • Buckling in the floor’s surface

Again, roots rarely cause foundation damage. If erosion or other factors disrupt the soil under your home, you could see the same signs. You will have to investigate the roots before you take any further actions. Dig around the foundation near your trees and see if their roots extend toward it and start to grow down. If they do, then they may have caused your foundation problems.

Prevent further damage with these tips:

  • Install root barriers before planting trees. These barriers deflect roots deeper into the ground and away from foundations, pavement, plumbing, and more.

  • Cut the offending roots. However, use caution with this tip. Some trees die when they lose even a small portion of their roots. A tree-trimming expert has the experience to complete this step without harming the tree. Install root barriers and nourish the rest of the tree in the meantime while you wait for it to heal.

  • Cut down the entire tree and remove as much of the root system as possible. Sometimes trees grow too quickly and extensively for you to control root growth. To save your home, you’ll need to call a tree removal expert to chop down these trees. Your trees play an important role in your home’s appearance, but you can’t leave them there if they could destroy your house.

When Tree Roots Burrow Under Your Sidewalk or Driveway

Some homeowners have trouble with their tree roots when they grow under their sidewalks, driveways, patios, and other shallow, concrete structures. And those roots can cause some dangerous problems.

As the concrete cracks and buckles, pieces of it will stick up and create a tripping hazard. And because other people often use your sidewalk, patio, or driveway, they could become injured. Some injured persons may want to pull you into a personal injury lawsuit as a result, and you don’t want this to happen to you.

Look for the following signs if you suspect your trees have disrupted your driveway or sidewalk:

  • Cracks running across the concrete

  • Roots (or bumps of earth) leading to those cracks

  • Buckling in the concrete’s surface-the slabs won’t sit flush with each other anymore

To remedy the situation, use the same steps you used while safeguarding your foundation:

  • Install root barriers before the roots reach the concrete.

  • Cut the roots and dam them with root barriers to prevent further growth.

  • Cut down the tree and remove the root system so you can make a smooth, level surface again.

Talk to your local arborist for more information. He or she can tell you whether cutting the roots or the whole tree works better for your needs.

When Tree Roots Crack Your Plumbing

Roots grow into your plumbing because they find a small source of water, like a hairline crack or a loose joint, and they extend hair-like roots into it to access the steady flow of water and nutrients. You may not see the structural effects when roots grow into your plumbing, but you will experience the consequences.

Common signs include:

  • Slowly flowing drains that don’t clear with flushing treatments

  • Completely clogged drains that don’t clear with a plunger, drain cleaner, or other treatments

  • Changes in water pressure

Most of the time, you don’t have to kill or maim your tree if it grows into your sewer system. Instead, call a tree-trimming expert to remove the portion that grew into the plumbing and call a plumber to replace the pipe. With proper sealing and repairs, your plumbing won’t seem appealing to your tree anymore.

Watch for the signs above and call your tree-pruning expert when they appear. You won’t be able to remedy the problem without professional help, especially if damage has already occurred. Have the arborist or tree-trimming expert help you with your trees, then call your local plumbing or construction contractor for repairs.

All About Foundation Repair

Have you ever walked down thge sidewalk or the street and seen a flower poking its head out of a crack? How about something larger? In older neighborhoods it’s not uncommon to see concrete slabs of sidewalk pushed up and cattywampus by tree roots.
Now, picture all that happening under your house. You may think that because your house is bigger and heavier than a section of sidewalk, it’s immune to heaving and other movement caused by tree roots. However, your slab foundation is just as susceptible to damage by tree roots as the sidewalk in front of your house.
What can you do to prevent foundation problems due to tree roots? Well, when you’re planning on new landscaping, make sure trees and other plants (even shrubs can damage your foundation) are planted sufficiently far away from the foundation.
To prevent roots from encroaching under your foundation, you should install root barriers. Root barriers stop tree roots from getting under your concrete slab foundation and pulling moisture from the soil, which can cause the foundation to settle. Root barriers can be made of concrete or plastic (corrugated vinyl, for instance). Ace Foundation, however, installs a tough, flexible material designed to resist cracking due to soil movement or new root pressure.

Visit our website to get more information about root barriers and view a great video.
Get more information by visiting

Photo by Flickr user Wouter Verhelst.

How Tree Roots Can Harm Your Foundation

There are many different causes of foundation damage. They can range from improper drainage all the way down to low-quality soil around your home. Tree roots can also be a major cause of foundation trouble.

Trees may seem like a great addition to your landscaping. You are absolutely right on that. Trees can offer many benefits. They provide a nice shade during the hot summer months and they can also reduce the energy consumption of your house. They also are very nice to look at. Unfortunately, with all the good trees have to offer, they also have some bad.

Types of Trees that Cause Foundation Problems

Good Roots

Not all trees pose a threat to your foundation. Pine trees have roots that extend straight down into the soil. Because of this, pine trees have almost no impact on your foundation.

Risky Roots

The most concerning trees are hardwoods such as oaks and elms. These types of trees have shallow roots which poses a problem to your foundation. They are very popular because they tend to grow quickly. The reason for this quick growth is because they drain a lot of water from the soil. This can cause the soil to shift around your foundation.

How to Protect Your Foundation from Roots

If you have hardwood trees around your house, that doesn’t mean you need to start panicking. If the trees were already mature when your home was built, the chances are that they have had plenty of time to drain the soil and won’t be a risk to damaging your foundation. However, if these types of trees were planted after the construction of your home there is a chance they could cause damage.

There are some steps that you can take to protect your foundation.

Keep the leaf count down

The more leaves a tree has, the more water it needs. Lowering the amount of leaves will decrease the amount of water the tree needs. Trim up your trees and maintain them regularly.

Plant new trees far away

If you are planning on adding a new tree to your foundation be sure and keep them half of their anticipated height away from your home. While the depth and size of tree roots varies between species of tree and soil conditions, some have been shown to grow as wide as 40 times the diameter of their trunk. For a moderately sized tree with a trunk that measures 1 foot in diameter, that means the roots may spread as far as 40 feet away. Keep that in mind when planning your landscape.

Inspect your roots with subterranean imaging

Using modern technology, it’s actually possible to map the roots of trees with subterranean imaging and determine whether or not roots are likely to damage your foundation. If you’re worried about it, contact a professional, and figure it out before it’s too late.

Remove roots and stumps before the damage

The key is prevention. If you suspect that roots are penetrating, affecting, or damaging your foundation, act quickly!

To remove a root from your foundation, do the following:

  • Start by digging into the ground down to the level of the roots near your home’s foundation.
  • Cut the roots where they enter the foundation, and pull any projections from the concrete.
  • Seal any cracks or openings in the foundation with a liquid concrete or acrylic barrier
  • Refill the hole with the dirt.

If you notice that your foundation is already damaged, make sure to call the professionals at Ram Jack for a top-level repair before it gets worse.

Don’t Hesitate to Repair Your Foundation

If you’re worried about foundation damage due to tree roots or any other cause, act quickly. The longer you wait, the more likely you will have to deal with costly damage and a more involved repair. Call Ram Jack Texas – Houston today! We’re happy to perform a free inspection and repair any damage before it gets worse. We have the best repair methods and offer our services at an affordable price.

Problems With Concrete Over Tree Roots – What To Do With Tree Roots Covered In Concrete

Years ago, a concrete worker I knew asked me in frustration, “Why do you always walk on the grass? I install sidewalks for people to walk on.” I just laughed and said, “That’s funny, I install lawns for people to walk on.” The concrete vs. nature argument is not a new one. As much as we all may long for a lush, green world, most of us live in a concrete jungle. Trees, who have no voice to join the argument, are often the biggest victims of this battle. Continue reading to learn about concrete over tree roots.

Problems with Concrete Over Tree Roots

Concrete workers are not arboristsor landscapers. Their expertise is in laying concrete not growing trees. When a concrete worker is at your home giving you an estimate on a driveway, patio or sidewalk, that is not the right time or the right person to ask how the concrete will affect trees near the project.

Ideally, if you have large trees that you would like to keep safe and healthy, you should first call an arborist to come tell you the best location to place a concrete structure without damaging the tree roots. Then, call a concrete company. A little planning ahead can save you a lot of money in tree removal or redoing concrete.

Oftentimes, tree roots are pruned or cut to make way for concrete areas. This practice can be very bad for the tree. Roots are what anchor tall, top heavy trees in to the ground. Cutting major roots that are anchoring a tree can cause the tree to easily be damaged by high winds and strong weather.

Roots also absorb water, oxygen and other nutrients that are essential to tree growth and development. If half a tree’s roots are cut off, that side of the tree will die back from lack of water and nutrients. Cutting roots can also lead to insects or diseases penetrating the fresh cuts and infecting the tree.

Root pruning is especially bad for older trees, although young roots that are pruned to make room for concrete patios, sidewalks or driveways may grow back.

What to do with Tree Roots Covered in Concrete

Tree roots covered in concrete will not be able to absorb water, oxygen or nutrients. However, professional concrete workers do not usually pour concrete directly on the bare ground or tree roots. Generally, a thick layer of gravel paver base and/or sand is put down, compacted and then the concrete is poured over this. Sometimes, metal grids are also put beneath the gravel base.

Both metal grids and a layer of compacted gravel will help tree roots grow deeper, avoiding the gravel or grid. Metal grids or rebar used when pouring concrete also help prevent large roots from being able to heave the concrete up.

Oops, I poured concrete patio over tree roots by accident…now what?! If concrete has been poured directly upon the ground and tree roots, not much can be done. The concrete should be removed and re-done properly, with a thick paver base. This should preferably be away from the tree’s root zone. Care should be taken to remove any concrete from the tree roots, though the damage may already be done.

A close eye should be kept on the overall health of the tree. Trees do not usually show signs of stress or damage immediately. It can often take a year or two to see the effects caused to a tree.

Other causes of foundation damage

It’s all too easy to blame trees for causing foundation damage because industrial societies regard them as invaders in developed areas. But there are many human interventions that can cause foundation damage.

Such factors include poorly insulated basements, gardens planted by homeowners, and drainage pipes. All of these can cause soil dehydration and concrete settling.

How to prevent root-related damage

If you’re concerned about the potential for roots damaging your foundation, you can take a number of steps to protect yourself. In most cases, concerns arise after the foundation has been laid and nearby trees have already been long in place.

One way to address the issue is to build a root barrier. In order to do so, you may have to dig all the way down to the base of your home’s foundation. You can cut away roots that are approaching your foundation while you’re digging for the barrier.

The process can be a hassle, but it’s better than merely trusting that your home will be left undamaged by weather cycles and root growth.

If you’re determined to plant a new tree in your yard, another way to subvert the threat of root damage is to select a slow-growing tree species that has less aggressive rooting tendencies. Steer clear of willows, silver maples, and elm trees that spread deep and insidious roots, and go for oak or sugar maple trees that grow more slowly.

Another way to prevent tree roots from causing damage is to reconsider your plans for tree planting in the area around your home. One of the main issues to consider before planting a tree is how large your yard is.

It’s a common belief that a tree will develop roots as broad as the tree is tall, but this is a misconception that underestimates the facts. Actually, a tree can develop roots that are two to three times its height.

If you can’t provide adequate space for the tree’s roots, then you should think about trying something smaller or a different landscaping option altogether.

If you’re building a new structure, you can take a number of steps to prevent root damage in the future. One of the most common causes of foundation damage is an insufficiently deep foundation.

This is why homes with full basements are far less vulnerable to root damage and concrete settling than older homes built on shallow foundations. Those shallow foundations are far more vulnerable to dried-out soil conditions and shifts, whereas full basements offer significant structural protection.

Don’t start cutting down trees immediately if you’re worried about invasive roots. This is often unnecessary and it can be avoided by using such strategies as a root barrier.

An analysis of your soil type and foundation status can also demonstrate that roots are not a major threat to your home. Cutting down trees should only be a last solution to a potential root problem.

Get foundation repair assistance

If you’ve noticed foundation damage and suspect tree roots, soil changes, or concrete settling, contact Edens Structural Solutions today! Our team of professionals can help you assess any concerns you have about your foundation, and we offer a variety of repair options.

Contact us for your free consultation. We will examine your property, foundation, and any potential damage, and develop a suitable plan of action for your home or business. Don’t let tree roots rock your foundation; Edens Structural Solutions can keep your structure standing strong!

Fall trees

Holding on tight, Wynton Smith, 6. balances on a tree branch as Joshua King, 10, middle, and Randy King Jr., 9, jump up and down on the oak tree’s branch as they spend Friday, March 29, 2002 at City Park with their family. The friends were having a picnic with their family on their day off from elementary school for Easter break. Photo by Jennifer Zdon, The Times-Picayune archive


QUESTION: Recently, a friend observed that I had three silver leaf maple and two sycamore trees growing approximately 18 to 20 feet from my house. He remarked that I should remove them as soon a possible since their roots are growing under the home’s concrete slab and will crack it. How dangerous is this? The trees are about seven years old. Should I remove them now? — James Simms

ANSWER: Advice from friends can be helpful, but it also can be needlessly alarming. I’d recommend you look around any typical neighborhood well supplied with shade trees. If roots from trees 18 to 20 feet from a house would break or damage a slab, most homes with trees in their yards would have broken slabs. Or you would see virtually no shade trees in any yards.

Obviously, this is not what you see. Shade trees are commonly planted in yards and often closer than 20 feet. This should reassure you that tree roots do not break slabs the way your friend described.

There is much more concern when it comes to sidewalks, driveways and patios. These relatively thin concrete structures can be damaged by tree roots. It’s especially important to locate trees far enough away from these structures (15 to 20 feet for large-growing trees like oaks and sycamores).

A home’s slab, however, is a much thicker, steel-rebar-reinforced structure that is far stronger than driveways and sidewalks. In addition, the dry, low-oxygen growing conditions under a slab are not favorable for roots, and roots rarely proliferate under slabs.

Tree roots tend to grow most abundantly in open areas, like the lawn. Your trees should pose no threat to your slab.

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