Some time ago, a friend of mine asked me, “Why do you walk on the grass? Sidewalks are for people to walk on.” I laughed and replied, “Lawns are for folks to walk on as well.”
The nature vs. concrete argument is not anything new. As much as we all want lush, long greenery, we live in a world filled with concrete building and spaces.
Trees, who have no say in the argument, are usually the primary victims of this battle. Read on to learn how to deal with tree roots and concrete.
Issues with Concrete Over Tree Roots
Concrete workers are not landscapers or arborists. Their knowledge is in setting concrete not maintaining trees. When a paver is at your house giving you a price on a patio, sidewalk, or driveway, this isn’t the person to ask how the concrete will affect your trees around the project.
Preferably, if you have big trees that you want to remain healthy and safe, you should contact an arborist first to let you know the best spot to put a concrete structure without harming the tree roots. Then you reach out to a concrete company. Some advanced planning can save you plenty of money in redoing concrete or tree removal service.
The Problem with Concrete and Root Pruning
Often, tree roots are cut or pruned to make way for concrete projects. This technique can be harmful to trees. Roots are what attach massive, tall trees to the earth. Pruning roots that are securing a tree cause the tree to be damaged by strong weather and high winds.
Also, roots absorb oxygen, nutrients, and water, oxygen, things that are vital to tree development and growth. If a good portion of the roots is pruned, that side of the tree will perish due to no nutrients and water.
Pruning roots lead to diseases and pests getting into the fresh cuts and infecting the tree. Root pruning is particularly bad for mature trees — young roots that are pruned to put in sidewalks, driveways, patios. Young roots can grow back while the roots of mature trees won’t, so be careful when you make these kinds of decisions.
How often have you gone for a run and seen sidewalks heaved out of place or cracked due to tree roots? Sadly, this issue is all too common. Not only are the destroyed sidewalks a possible accident for pedestrians, fixing the condition can be damaging to the tree.
Prevention is the best way not to have to deal with problematic tree root systems. When root issues develop, root pruning might be needed. However, root pruning is nothing to play with and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Avoid putting trees in spaces with less than three feet between paved spots. In spots with three to four feet between paved areas, put trees that mature to a height of fewer than 30 feet. In spaces with five to six feet between paved spots, pick trees that grow around 50 feet tall. Save trees that grow larger than 45 feet for places with approximately eight feet between paved sections. This delivers enough space for tree roots.
Things to know before planting trees near a sidewalk? Don’t plant shallow rooted tree types near sidewalks.
Sugar maple, red maple, Norwood maple, ash, tuliptree, pin oak, sweetgum, cottonwoods, poplars, American elm, willows are examples of shallow-rooted trees.
Install root barriers around the tree-side border of the sidewalk. The barrier will make tree roots grow deeply under the sidewalk, stopping any heaving.
Barriers can be constructed of geotextile fabric or plastic. It should go one foot deep and around five or six feet in either direction from the spot on the sidewalk’s edge nearest to the tree.
Trees close to sidewalks
The area between the sidewalk and a street curb is referred to as a parkway, streetscape, or treelawn according to where you live in the US. Small trees are most appropriate for planting in near sidewalks since their roots don’t grow quite big.
Plant big trees such as oaks for larger spaces, those over eight feet wide since their roots can push up the pavement and sidewalk if planted too close.
Get in touch with a Rochester arborist if you need more information about which trees work best near sidewalks.
If you’re planning on putting a few trees in your outdoor space, it’s vital to know where you can plant them when it comes to nearby power lines. Tall trees that grow straight up into overhead power lines are repeatedly trimmed back to stay clear of the lines. The job can be pricey and creates an odd-shaped, unattractive tree. Also, the roots of trees that are put too close to underground power lines can be destroyed if the lines have to be taken up for repairs.
Here are some things to know before planting trees near power lines to avoid conflicts with the power lines.
Planting Trees and Overhead Power Lines
Tree specialists and electric utilities suggest that property owners plant trees near overhead power lines pick trees that grow 25 feet or less. Tree care professionals call this the low zone. Also, there is a medium zone and a tall zone. Here’s how they work:
Low Zone — This area goes from straight underneath overhead power lines to between 15 feet and 25 feet on any side of the lines. Low-growing trees that mature between 20 and 25 feet should only be put in the low zone.
Medium Zone — Medium-growing trees that mature between 25 and 35 feet have to be planted in the medium zone, an area that’s around 25 to 50 feet away from power lines.
Tall Zone — Tall trees that mature over 35 feet have to be planted in the tall zone which starts around 50 feet from the power lines.
Trees and Underground Power Lines
Since underground power lines aren’t buried deep down and usually are close to the surface, it’s vital to plant your trees a secure distance away. Doing so will help eliminate issues while digging and can aid in stopping your tree’s roots from growing around the lines.
Since a tree’s root system is as wide as the tree itself, and in some instances wider, you might want to follow the low, medium and tall zone recommendations when planting trees near underground power lines.
Though, if you keep the low zone around buried power lines free of trees, you won’t chance significant destruction to the tree’s roots if the line requires repairing.
From trees with vivid flowers to evergreens, you have plenty of choices when selecting fast-growing trees. Many of these trees have roots that don’t spread and won't wreck your hardscape like paving, walls, patios, and fountains. An even more significant advantage is that several have limbs that resist breakage and are less likely to fall and damage your fence, railing, or trellis.
To pick the perfect tree that won’t hurt your foundation, it’s critical to select trees that don’t have an invasive root system that creates havoc. Before setting your sights on a specific tree that you feel will be amazing, make sure you discover all you can learn about its root system, particularly about the estimated spread and depth of its roots. Trees, specifically the roots, can annihilate your outdoor space.
What kind of trees shouldn't be planted near a house foundation?
Trees that grow lateral, long roots should not be planted anywhere near your home. By expanding under your structure and pushing it upward, this causes your foundation to heave. Furthermore, since trees need water to live, they rob your soil of much-needed moisture, and this can be harmful to your structure.
Here are some trees with roots that don’t spread. This list includes walnut, hickory, conifers, and oak. The second group of trees like ash, cottonwoods, and maples is known for growing lateral invasive trees roots. You want to leave these alone. Deciduous trees are likely to have deep root systems and should be avoided.
The distance to plant a tree from a residence
While roots can hurt your foundation, they can create other problems as well. It’s crucial to keep tree roots far away from underground utility lines. To be on the safe side, make sure trees are planted at least five to ten feet away from utilities. Call a tree specialist to come to inspect your yard and let you know the best place to plant.
Where sidewalks or driveways are concerned, it’s best to plant them at least six to seven feet away. If you’re planting a medium-sized tree, put it at least 20 feet away if the tree is known for having to invade, large roots. It may be best to put in a root barrier to shield your driveway or home from damage.
Rochester Tree Service wants to help you care for the trees on your property. Trees are valuable resources and we want to provide interesting information to you!