408 867-0143 | Since 1973 | ISA Certified Arborist
Saratoga Tree Service

Underground Needs


Root Pruning

Damage caused by tree roots to driveways and sidewalks is costly and often reoccurs within a 3 to 5 year period.


Many of the requests we get for root-pruning in complexes are due to the wrong tree being planted in the wrong place. As the tree matures, it begins to push up cement or asphalt, causing hundreds or thousands of dollars in damage. What options are available when this occurs?


We do not recommend cutting roots that are within 3 ft. of the trunk edge (at this point, you would be cutting into support roots). Ideally, you would not cut any roots within 6 ft. of the trunk, but many sidewalks are only 3 ft. or less in width. If roots of significant size are to be severed, you should make sure that the cut will be clean (no tears or frays) and that there are strong supporting lateral roots left for the tree.

Root barriers

The placement of root barriers is often requested and used in conjunction with a root-cutting program. For the younger, healthier trees,  root barriers may slow sidewalk damage by a few years.  For the larger, mature trees, it is debatable as to whether the barriers are cost-effective.  Root barriers can be expensive depending on which type of material is used, so it is wise to research the matter thoroughly.

Sidewalks and roots

Diverting the sidewalk or removing some concrete slabs to accommodate the roots is an alternative that is seldom used but can be a very viable solution under the right circumstances. Different materials can be used for paths within the complexes rather that always using concrete or asphalt.  These could include sand, interlocking paving stones, or bricks etc.


The options you choose may involve a combination of all four choices.  Knowing what types of trees cause root problems at maturity will help you prevent costly future mistakes.


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