heaving sidewalk

Would you recommend cutting the root where it goes underneath
the sidewalk to prevent further lifting of the sidewalk. right now it isn’t so bad but future says it will break the concrete soon.
thanks for all your help


cutting the root will stop the growth of that particular root, but if the tree is close enough, others will grow in it’s place. to realy prevent any more damage, you’d have to remove the tree/bush or what ever it is. then you may still get some damage over the years from the old roots decaying under it. it’s kinda a loose loose, but i’d pick the lesser of 2 evils.

Depending on the kind of tree but most often cutting a root isn’t going to stop the upheaval of the concrete. Obviously you have a tree with a shallow root system. I took out several large Water oaks in my front yard for this very same reason. I am so glad I did too because a year later we had Hurricane Ivan and all of them would have been in my house was well as broken water lines and probable foundation problems. Normally you are not dealing with just one root anyway but rather a very large root mass system that will just grow new roots to replace the lost water collection system you have cut.

It depends on the type of tree, its age, and its value.

Many trees, especially oaks, can add significant value to a property, especially if they are mature.

Depending on the tree species, a good general rule of thumb is that once the root system is established, new roots will not grow at the surface. “Established” is what is difficult to define and depends on the species. Species like Liquidamber styraciflua (sweetgum) are notorious for constantly growing new roots, especially at the surface because suckering is part of their genetic predisposition for reproducing. Additionally, when we plant “wild” trees in our yards, we encourage them to do things that they don’t normally do by planting grass beneath them and then fertilizing the hec out of that grass so that it looks better than the neighbors’ grass. So the tree might not necessarily be a shallow-root species.

Softwoods (pines) generally have long tap roots with few surface roots. Again, you can change the pine tree habit by providing lots of surface fertilizer.

Hardwoods (like oaks and sweetgum) generally have a wide, shallow (all things considered) root system.

Not all surface roots of that size are main roots, however. They simply might have grown large because of the extremely good supply of fertilizer that had been dumped on the luscious green lawn over the years.

Occasionally, cutting a long root like that shown in the picture will cause dieback of certain branches, sometimes even a whole side of a tree or the tree itself.

If the Client wants to keep the tree because of its shade value (energy) or its curb appeal value, and the root needs to be cut, it should be done in stages rather than removed all at once. Cutting large roots in stages will help the tree adjust to the prospect of it losing a main root. I would dig a trench to see how large the root is, and then I would make a cut about 25% through the root every three months. Make sure that at least one cut is done during the growing season and that another cut is make during the fall when the sap from the tree is flowing back to the roots.

Additionally, if one desires to keep the tree, after doing the above cuts, one can cut the roots to a depth of 3-6 feet (depending on species) along the sidewalk every 3-5 years (depending on species) until the tree is mature.

I can’t tell what kind of tree it is from the picture, but I’m estimating the trunk circumference at about 12-18 inches, so, again, depending on the species but looking at that luscious green lawn there, that root probably has been encouraged to grow there through excessive fertilizer application to the lawn.

I can provide more information, or be more specific, if you can provide the species or a picture of the tree and its leaves, flowers, and/or fruit.

At the very minimum that root needs to be cut or there is a very good chance (like 99.9%) the root will *eventually *do major damage to the foundation wall. I do agree the tree removal is perhaps the only way of assuring all roots are removed. I see it all the time here in Chicago. Huge trees near old brick bungalows cracking up foundation walls.

Thanks for the knowledgable tips all , you are always there to help
with any ? i have . thanks again