I think we all have had a tree on our property that has or could lead to problems.  So when I saw this on my e-mail...courtesy of the Tree Care Industry Association.... I thought it was very informative and worth sharing with everyone.


Trees are hardy plants, and their roots fight back against man-made limits around them. In the urban and suburban landscape, tree roots often are forced to grow between buildings or under driveways and walkways. As roots grow, they will break walls, pipes and patios, causing damage to properties.


Plan before you plant

Woody tree roots thicken as they grow, gradually pushing shallow roots toward the surface. Since soil near the surface is best suited for root growth, most tree roots are just below the surface - putting them in conflict with man-made obstacles. Where the soil is covered by a solid driveway or patio, upward growing roots do not experience the normal signals (increased light and air) that they are reaching the surface. As a result, they often grow against the underside of pavement and become intrusive.


Cutting roots with discretion

Some homeowners, masons and landscapers deal with intrusive roots by grinding down or removing them. This can be expensive and is very harmful to the tree. Wounding a tree's roots creates points of entry for pathogens, leaving a tree vulnerable to disease. Cutting major roots also reduces a tree's ability to take up nutrients and water, leaving it more susceptible to drought. Finally, cutting roots can reduce a tree's structural support, which increases the danger the tree will topple onto your house in high winds.

Keep these cautions in mind when cutting problem tree roots:

  • the farther you cut from the trunk, the less threat to the tree's health, and the less danger of creating a hazard
  • try not to cut roots greater than 2 inches in diameter
  • prune roots back to a side or sinker root (growing downward) when possible
  • roots recover better from being severed when you:
    • cut them cleanly with a saw instead of breaking them with a backhoe
    • mulch and water well after root pruning
  • consult a qualified arborist when cutting within a distance equal to five times the trunk diameter to the trunk

Some better root management options include:

  • installing physical root guides and barriers that redirect tree roots down and away from hardscapes with minimal impact on the tree
  • curve new hardscape features - such as a driveway or patio - around the tree roots
  • suspend hardscape features on small pilings to bridge over roots

Find a professional

A professional arborist can assess your landscape and work with you to determine the best trees to plant. Contact the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), a 71-year-old public and professional resource on trees and arboriculture. It has more than 2,000 member companies who recognize stringent safety and performance standards and who are required to carry liability insurance. TCIA also has the nation's only Accreditation program that helps consumers find tree care companies that have been inspected and accredited based on: adherence to industry standards for quality and safety; maintenance of trained, professional staff; and dedication to ethics and quality in business practices. An easy way to find a tree care service provider in your area is to use the "Locate Your Local TCIA Member Companies" program. You can use this service by calling 1-800-733-2622 or by doing a ZIP code search at www.treecaretips.org.