Concern about the effect on mature trees of Sidewalk Installation

Asked March 17, 2016, 1:56 PM EDT

We have three mature (approximate 12" diameter, 30'-50' tall) pine trees along the edge of our property opposite the garage. We have a pool in our backyard, the area receives a lot of traffic during the summer and we would like to install some kind of walkway along the side of the garage to ease access to the backyard. Our concern is that in the area of the gate there are a number of 2"-3" roots that emerge from the soil and present a trip hazard as well as interfere with the operation of the gate. The question is; can we safely trim these roots without damaging the trees, or do we need to plan on leaving the roots as-is and planning around them. While our primary concern is the roots we can see, we assume that there are other roots from these tree that we cannot see that might need to be trimmed and will the walkway be far enough from the trees to avoid trimming that would cripple the trees. The trees would be about 5'-6' from the edge of the sidewalk.

Hennepin County Minnesota

2 Responses

The less interference with the roots, the better. The bottom two don't have a lot of surface room as it is with the buildings so close. I don't know what is on the left of the trees. If it is open ground, you should be able to cut a few of the roots without major problems. Most pines are fairly tolerant of root severance.

Be aware that adding material on top of roots, even the ones below the surface, can also be harmful to trees and that the roots will likely grow back under your new walkway. A permeable surface would be more root-friendly than concrete.

See the following that discuss cutting tree roots:
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/landscaping/implement/protecting_trees.html

Thanks. We will pursue an alternative to concrete and look at something permeable above the roots -- perhaps a low boardwalk.


Thanks for you time.