I am preparing to install a paver stone patio in our backyard but while
I was excavating I started hitting some decent sized roots only 6 or so
inches below ground level from an oak tree. The oak tree is only about
3 feet from the proposed patio. My concern is that after a couple of
years this will make my patio uneven over time. I was wondering if
anyone out there has any suggestions?
That's why it is best to use pavers rather than concrete under flagstone for
example. You can reset the pavers in the future if required.
Removing a lot of roots not only will hurt the tree but leave it weakened in
such a way as it may topple in a high wind or heavy snow. Not advised to
cut larger roots. If you had a few 2" roots maybe but not a big one.
Fortunately in a mature tree, these largest roots will probably not move
much. If the tree were younger and had more to grow I would be more
worried. Do you have a sense if it is already full size?
You can raise the level of the patio by an inch or two by using more sand
and base rock, this will help by buffering the roots deeper, the sand will
be easier to redistribute in the future if you need to reset the pavers.
Now my one concern with this is that you are supposed to create a
gravel base with the sand overlay. What if the root interferes with
the ability to create a proper base? Just work around them? I really
appreciate the quick response and your excellent insight.
My suggestion is that you contact an arborist if you want to keep the
tree. It is recommended that no more than 1" of cover be added per
year within the drip line of a tree.
--Andy Asberry recommends NewsGuy--
A good point but pavers do let water through, sounds like it is only along
one side of the tree anyway. Removing a tree can be troublesome. A friend
sold a tree for $1k but did not have a permit to remove it so now he has to
pay over $3500 to plant two new slightly smaller trees to replace it or pay
an even bigger fine to the city.
I've got a personal bias against damaging tree roots, particularly for
something as large and valuable as an oak. In your situation I would
explore the idea of leaving the ground rough and erecting a bench or table
around that side of the tree. Regards -- JimR
The masonry company that re-did my front porch needlessly and without
being noticed, cut a root of the beautiful large spuce that graced
the front of my house. Over one year later the oil delivery guy
noticed in a windstorm that the ground under the tree was heaving. I
had to have it cut down immediately. On a weekend. Forget that it
was double the price of weekday work- I still mourn the tree. Plus,
although they did a nice job on the front, I could never hire them
again for the driveway or back porch. I couldn't bear to look at
them again knowing what they did to the tree.
Lead me not into temptation... I can find it myself!
Your patio and your oak tree will not be happy neighbors. The general
guideline is that any trenching, which is what you will be doing to prepare
the sub-base for the patio, should be no closer to the trunk of the tree
than 1.5 feet for every 1 inch of tree diameter measured 5 feet above the
ground (dbh). In other words, a 10-inch diameter tree would require a 15
foot setback. This is a general guideline, and is not a substitute for an
on site evaluation of the tree by a qualified expert.
The root system of the tree is within the top 18 inches of soil. There will
be no way to avoid the roots with the patio. And, the roots increase in
diameter as the tree gets older. At some point in the future, they will
push the pavers up. So a little design creativity is in order.
However, it may be useful to have a licensed arborist asses the condition of
the tree. My suggestion is for you to first find out if the tree is worth
preserving before you spend time and energy on design alternatives. If you
decide to keep the tree, you might try to keep the top of the patio as high
as feasible, and just set the pavers closest to the tree in a sand bedding
over filter fabric with no sub base. As the tree grows, you would remove
the lifted pavers back as necessary. The oak tree (as compared with a
Norway maple for example) will not lift the patio randomly. The pavers
closest to the trunk will lift first because the roots are larger and grow
in girth more quickly closest to the trunk.
Other responders have suggested design elements such as benches, and
suggestions include planters, a water feature, or whatever that may work.
Personally, I would want to keep a healthy significant tree for all of its
benefits and forgo the full size of the patio as required by the
Good luck with your project.
I have no problem with severing roots as long as they are severed
a few feet beyond the drip line. I've done it to three trees
and they are all still there 20 years and 12 years later. But I
fed and watered them very well.
3 feet is too close and WILL make the tree a prime candidate for
uprooting in a decent wind storm. I plant trees and am opposed
to removing them unless they are dead, dying, or an eye sore.
To work around the roots is going to be a lot of digging plus
pouring gravel and sand and then laying brick as a foundation
for the patio.
I suggest getting your County extension service involved.
They may have some bright ideas.
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