heaving concrete tree root

I have a tree root heaving under my walk up patio sidewalk , can i
cut this where it starts and get rid of this problem ? any suggestions


Many trees can survive a single root cutting with minor shock. A lot of times you need to consider what it might do to the looks of the tree. I cut a root on a real nice blue spruce. A quarter of the tree needles died and it looked like a skeleton on that side for quite a while. It took almost 3 years for the tree to recover.

Cutting tree roots can lead to serious problems. While the tree may or may not recover from having a major root cut, that may not be your biggest problem.

You need to take into consideration how big the tree is and where it is located. That root, while it may not seem like a major item, could add a fair amount of stability to the tree. I have seen lots of times where owners and a lot of cities will cut roots to stop a similar problem, only to have the tree fall in the next big windstorm.

If you really are serious about saving the tree and your sidewalk, call in an arborist. There may even be a best time of year to cut the root.

Good luck.

hey thanks alot ,makes alot of sense

Hey, Rafael.

Do you know what kind of tree it is? If I knew where you were, I could probably guess.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Forest Management from Texas A&M University, December 1978. Landscaping in urban environments is an avocation of mine.

There usually are two reasons why tree roots crawl across the surface like that: (1) the tree naturally suckers, meaning that it shoots up new trees from its roots, or (2) someone’s been watering 5 minutes a day for a gazillion bazillion years.

Except in special cases (golf courses, etc.), one should water infrequently but for a long time so that the water drains deeply, causing the tree roots to grow downwards searching for, and following, that water.

The picture looks like a sweetgum root, Liquidamber styraciflua. Sweetgum grow everywhere and is one of the species that suckers from its roots. If it is a sweetgum, they are almost indestructible, so it’s usually possible to cut their surface roots. If you’ve got more pictures of the area under the tree, as well as the tree itself, and what city/state you’re in, I can help you more.

Depending on the type of tree, its age, and other factors, if you cut tree roots, it is best to cut a small section at a time. For large surface roots, start as far from the tree as posible and cut out a one-foot section. That will cause the tree to go into shock. Wait at least a week before doing any other cutting. What you’re trying to do is gauge the extent of shock to the tree. Sweetgum rarely go into much shock, but it will depend on the time of year, as well as other factors sometimes. If there isn’t much shock, meaning few or no dead limbs, then one can continue cutting the tree root.

Generally tree limbs/branches for deciduous trees should be cut in the late fall/winter or early spring (depending on your location) before the sap in the roots has reached the branches and new growth has started. Generally, tree roots for deciduous trees should be cut in the early summer to early fall when the sap is still in the limbs/branches. The more sap you can leave in the tree, the less shock it will have. Also, depending on the species, watering and fertilizing can help a tree go through the shock of losing limbs, branches, or roots. However, with cut roots, don’t apply fertilizer too close to the cut since it can burn both the old root where it was cut, possibly causing more shock to the tree, and can burn any new roots that the tree might be sending out to take up food and water to replace that from the cut root. If you fertilize, use one-fourth to one-half the normal dosage.

Also, you can ask questions over at All Experts, where I’m listed as a Landscaping expert under Home/Garden. Also under Home/Garden is a Trees category. Although there’s only one Expert in the Trees category, he definitely knows his stuff regarding forests. Not sure about his knowledge of urban arboriculture, though.

The author of this last post has a propensity from quoting from the works of others, failing to cite his source and passing it on as his own.

Here is the actual source document where you will find the above, word for word, used. www.ncrs.fs.fed.us/epubs/pdf/rp332.pdf There is other information in this scholarly article that should help you as well.

Good luck.

From what I can see it looks like it just starting to become a problem, if you cut it back about 12" you should not loose any stability. After you cut it make small line of ice cream salt right at the edge of the walk and it will prevent it from growing right back. RR’s right about the watering, water once a week for a long time, it will cause thr root to turn down.

While I am tempted to say cut the tree down, perhaps it would not be justified in this instance. But it does provoke me to ask a related question.

When I moved into my house I had two quite large trees growing near the house (each 5 feet away). Although the basement showed no signs of root damage I decided to cut the trees down to prevent this (the roof was also new and I did not want trouble here). My question is, will it prevent it? Although I removed the stumps, the roots are still in the ground. Does anyone know if they will still grow to cause damage to the basement wall or are they now dead, or should I say dead enough?

For the most part, they probably are dead enough. However, it will depend on the species. For example, with the Sweetgum, some root killer probably also is in order since it is a suckering species and cutting the tree down many times simply forces the roots to sucker even more.

Pine trees, for the most part, are dead.

However, if you cut a tree down, specifically to keep the roots from growing, cut the tree down right after all the new growth has sprouted, i.e., usually in the late spring, but still depending on the species. That way, all the sap is removed with the tree and not stored in the roots for regrowth.

Pine trees, while evergreen, still lose needles (leaves) on a daily basis. However, as with all trees, they lose the majority of their needles in the fall as daylight hours get shorter. So, depending on where you are (far north will be different from far south) cut them down sometime between early October and the first snow (snow?) around Thanksgiving or so.

Remember that mature trees add a quantifiable dollar value to the property, a dollar value that is not easily replaced. So unless they are causing problems to foundations, siding, walkways, driveways, roofs, or chimneys, try to leave them in place and practice regular homeowner monitoring and maintenance.

The tree is 18 yrs old .I dont know what kind. I live in Modesto,Ca
the central valley about 120 miles southeast of San Francisco
150miles north of Fresno,Ca . I am really wooried about the heaving patio
what should i do? This is now a tripping hazard . Thanks
P.S for those of you who dont know where Modesto is I am not proud
to say this but I live Down the street from Scott Petterson i am sure you
all remember that name.

very educational ,thanks

Hey, Rafael.

Having been to Modesto many times, I’d be willing to bet it’s a sweetgum. Can you post some more pictures?

Yes i will and i will try to make them larger ok. Thanks for your help