Municipal studies have found just as much sidewalk damage where no
trees were present as where they were. If your concrete is poured and
reinforced properly and your soil is stable, tree roots should not be
(ducking to avoid the flames from the "common sense/my daddy did it
that way school).
Get ready to duck.
I suspect that you may be reading and referencing municipal "studies" which
were conducted primarily to relieve municipalities of liability for damage to
sidewalks due to poor tree selection and placement. I'm guessing that we
are discussing very biased studies.
I believe that your comments defy common sense and frequent observations.
In our neighborhood the lifting & damage to sidewalks and driveways have all
been due to tree roots. The concrete was properly poured, unless you feel that
sidewalks and driveways must be poured with considerable rebar - a practice
which I've never seen. Common sense says that a root growing to a 12" diameter
under concrete has to push against something, and if the soil is "stable" then
that increases the need for the root to push upwards.
In my childhood neighborhood, every home had at least one huge elm tree growing
between the sidewalk and the street. Our home was the only exception on a very
large street. Apparently "our" elm died after just a few years and the
previous homeowner replaced it with an elm which turned out to be some dwarf
version. (It had strange little seed pods which we children enjoyed stomping
on and listening to the loud popping noise). After 40-50 years, our house was
the only one which had a sidewalk which hadn't been lifted and/or replaced.
Coincidence? I don't think so.