Sidewalk Damaged by Tree Roots

“I have a tree root that is growing under my concrete sidewalk and raising it up. What do you recommend I do for this?” -Gloria

Unfortunately, this is not a problem with an easy solution. You could work around it by replacing your sidewalk with adjustable or movable pavers that can accommodate the growing roots. However, to solve the problem and keep your concrete sidewalk, you’ll need to cut the tree roots (called “root pruning”) and then repair the sidewalk.

Root pruning is highly stressful to trees and cannot be done indiscriminately. The success of root pruning depends on the species, size, and age of the tree, the location of the cuts, environmental conditions, and the overall health of the tree. Some trees—such as Bradford pear, birch, and conifers—respond very poorly to root pruning.

Others may recover but can be more likely to fall later due to a lack of support. I recommend that you contact an arborist for advice before doing this yourself, or consider hiring a tree surgeon who can make the proper cuts to save your tree.

If you choose to go ahead with root pruning, make sure you’ll only have to do it once, by installing root barriers to prevent further damage from growing roots. Root barriers are generally made of fabric or plastic and have to be installed up to 4 feet deep to protect nearby pavement or structures.



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5 Comments on “Sidewalk Damaged by Tree Roots”

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  • Florence Says:
    October 17th, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Seams all of a sudden tree roots are pushing up the grass and sidewalk in front of it. also the tree is leaning some. It’s a 19 year old red maple. How can we fix this problem before it get worse? right now there is minimal damage.

  • Kirk G Says:
    August 6th, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Christine, You could use a D-handle Tree Saw, a powered reciprocal saw, or most any sharp, large tooth saw. However, you’ll also note that tree roots are one of the most dense forms of wood, and you’ll need room to move the blade back and forth. Good luck!

  • Joseph Says:
    April 14th, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Precision Concrete Cutting has a patented sidewalk repair process that eliminates the elevated portion of the sidewalk panel while leaving the tree roots undisturbed. Give them a call!

  • Christine Says:
    October 23rd, 2014 at 9:14 am

    What type of tool would you use to cut the roots of a tree once you pick up the sidewalk?

  • john Says:
    October 17th, 2009 at 7:53 am

    niagara falls n.y. our main sewer drain from the house to the street is busted from the cities tree,roots half to be cleand out every year at 400.00 a per cleaning,the water, sewer and city said the home owner is responsible from the house to the street,i’m pretty handy around the house,any suggestions. john

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Sidewalk Damaged by Tree Roots