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Can pavers and tree roots get along?

We’ve all seen patios and walkways that are wavy, uneven or splitting at the joints. This is often the result of shallow tree roots growing beneath the surface.

Although tree roots grow very slowly, over time their roots can exert tremendous pressure on hardscaping elements in their path disturbing the carefully laid foundation and causing the upheaval of paved surfaces including paving stones.

In addition to being unsightly and unsafe, tree roots can also jeopardize the integrity of the whole paver system. While you can’t actually stop roots from spreading, there are some things you can do to help prevent them from uprooting your walkway, patio or driveway.


Live in peace with your trees

Mature trees add character and privacy to a yard, which is why many homeowners would rather not take their trees down. If you aren’t prepared to fell them, make sure to leave a space of 3 to 6 feet between the existing trees and your pavers.

In some instances, it may be wise to add in a tree barrier for extra insurance by inserting a concrete footing directly into the soil. Additionally, consider installing a permeable paver base, which has been shown to slow the penetration of tree roots, and actually encourage roots to grow downwards to reach the water in underlying soil.

Getting to the root of it

If you do decide to take out existing trees to open up space for your paver project, make sure to remove all the tree roots before laying the foundation. Abandoned roots can break down over time making the ground unstable and causing the pavers to sink.

Putting down new roots

When landscaping around your paver project, avoid trees that are known for excessive root growth like Silver Maple or Poplar. Trees should be planted away from any paver edge a minimum of two times the expected diameter of the tree(s) when mature.

Make sure to plant trees far enough apart to provide them with space to spread out. If they are too close together, they have to compete for moisture causing the roots to grow faster and farther where they can do more damage.

Pavers are a more tree-friendly choice

If you’re trying to decide between pavers or poured concrete , it’s worthwhile noting that paving stones can make your life easier, particularly where tree roots are involved.

Interlocking pavers are flexible, allowing for some movement whereas poured concrete is not. If tree roots are causing a problem with a concrete or asphalt surface, undertaking repairs is usually a major job that involves cutting and re-pouring concrete, which will leave noticeable scars. With paving stones, it is a case of lifting the affected pavers out, removing the roots, levelling the foundation and replacing the stones.

There’s really no guarantee that tree roots won’t invade your carefully planned paver project, but the problem will be much more manageable if you begin with the right choices. Talk to a Unilock design consultant about a paver project that works harmoniously with the trees surrounding it.


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