How To Stop Tree Roots From Growing Under Pavers?

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For your backyard to look excellent, you need trees and pavers. Each plays a critical role in beautifying the yard. However, having the two occupying the same space means a conflict is bound to arise. Usually, when the roots grow under the pavers or driveway, they lift them. These pavers might trip someone, and of course, they look unsightly.

When building a paver walkway, driveway, or patio, you’ll want to remove as many nearby tree roots as possible. The easiest way to prevent pavers from growing under pavers is to:

  • Don’t construct a paver walkway or patio near a mature tree.
  • If you must, remove the tree. For mature trees grind the stump even to the ground.
  • Cut a 12 inch deep trench along the edges of the pavers to kill any roots in the ground.
  • During ground prep, till the ground to remove all underlying roots.
  • Treat the ground with a root-killing herbicide.
  • Lay a plastic barrier over the ground before adding your sand base.

The following section will look into the more extended method of stopping roots from growing under pavers.

How to Keep Tree Roots From Growing Under Pavers?

The following are ways you can keep your tree roots from growing under pavers.

1. Don’t Construct a Paver Walkway or Patio Near a Mature Tree

The easiest and most straightforward solution to not have tree roots encroach on your pavers is to not lay any pavers near trees. If this tactic is possible, it is well worth redesigning your area to avoid any problems later down the road altogether.

2. Remove the Tree (if needed)

If you choose the more straightforward method, it is as simple as calling a tree removal service. The tree removal service will cut down the tree and remove the stump as a permanent solution. When tree roots lift your pavers or concrete, getting it back to its original appearance is difficult.

3. Dig a Trench Along the Pavers

First off, dig a trench around the area where the tree roots have lifted the pavers. It is advisable to repeat this process twice annually if you have an aggressively growing tree. In the process of digging the trench, you end up cutting the roots.

Cut a 12-inch deep trench along the edges of the pavers to kill any roots in the ground. Therefore, the roots do not grow extensively, lifting your pavers.

4. Remove all Underlying Roots

You can remove underlying roots by following the steps laid out below:

  • Remove nearby pavers
  • Dig up the root
  • Remove the root as close to the edge of the pavers as possible
  • Level the ground where you removed the root
  • Carefully replace all of the pavers

5. Put a Barrier Down Between the Pavers and the Ground

Next, you may fix a barrier within the soil to stop the roots from growing under your pavers. You can make the barrier with concrete, plastic, or even metal. Fixing it will call for digging then placing the wall vertically.

This action will prevent the roots from growing into the wrong places. One inexpensive material you may consider is plastic. Usually, you can buy some thick plastic sheets that you can use for this purpose successfully.

It’s good to point out that tree roots are persistent. Somehow they tend to find a way around the barrier, especially if there is a weak link in your border. If they do get through the barrier, they end doing what you are trying to prevent in the first place.

6. Treat the Ground with a Herbicide During the Ground Prep

Alternatively, you can combine the barrier with the use of chemicals. The chemical additions prevent the growth of the roots. In a sense, the chemical kills the germs but not the tree.

You add a thin plastic material with smaller dots with hard plastics. Then add the herbicide around the hard plastic to kill the roots without killing the tree. These two form a bio-barrier. You can use a trifluralin herbicide.

Since the process of translocation does not occur from the roots, the tree won’t die. Translocation is the process of transporting elements in plants. Another outstanding characteristic of the trifluralin chemical is that it is less soluble in water, meaning it does not dispatch to other areas.

The incredible thing about this method is that it offers a relatively longer-lasting solution without necessarily cutting down the tree.

You can use the above method when there’s a new tree. However, for an older tree, you need to ensure you do not harm the tree. For instance, you need to dig trenches further from the trees. If you dig them too closely, you might damage the primary roots, which is the tree’s foundation.

We do not want the tree dying, do we? It’s safer to maintain a distance when digging the trenches. You may also use the same for concrete. Nevertheless, getting concrete back to normal is a tall order. On the other hand, you level the ground and place your pavers as they were in the first place.

How‌ ‌Close‌ ‌Can‌ ‌You‌ ‌Put‌ ‌Pavers‌ ‌To‌ ‌a ‌Tree?‌

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Since you do not want to cut it down, you must leave a space of between three to six feet. The range covers differently sized trees.

A large tree means you have to create more space for its roots. On the other hand, a medium or small tree will do well if you leave a distance of three feet.

How Do You Put Pavers Around Tree Roots?

Unlike concrete, having pavers around a tree does not affect its natural functions. A tree requires moisture to penetrate to the roots section. So it does not suffocate when you fix pavers all around.

Usually, roots that grow under the pavers are easier to manage. You can start by measuring the tree size, including its full-blown potential. This means that you must estimate how the tree will be to its full extent. In addition to that, you also need to evaluate the length of the root system. Remember to install a ring around the tree.

Typically, some trees have deep roots, while others have “shallow” ones even visible from the ground. Know which type of tree you have at home.

Leave about a foot of parallel space around the tree’s trunk for every ten feet of height of that tree. That means the roots will be left with enough space to source air under the soil and pavers.

When embarking on this type of work, you need to have the right tools and protection such as gloves, goggles, masks that will offer your eyes, nose, hands, and mouth protection.

Also, you can water the tree if you have to cut down the roots as you lay down the ring of pavers. The ideal weather is when it’s clean and dry. It would be best if you cleared any plants or weeds around the tree using a rake. If the weed is stuck, you can extract it using a weed tool.

How to Put Pavers Around Tree Roots

The process of installing the pavers around the tree is relatively simple.

  • Install the bricks forming the desired shape, ensuring you do the turns and curves correctly. If need be, you may cut the bricks into keystones to ensure they fit in curves or arch or all places the brick patterns do not rhyme well.
  • When you get to such a section, place the two adjacent bricks, then place another brick on top of these two. Once you place the brick, you may cut it depending on the requirements of the cut size. To achieve this, you use a masonry chisel and masonry hammer. These tools can easily cut through brick clays or precast concrete.
  • Next, you need to fix the edge pavers around the tree. Dig a circular trench around the tree. The canal will support the collections of bricks that go round the edges. The track should be half the bricks while laid vertically.
  • To fit in, the trench should be more comprehensive than in the brick with a few millimeters. You may lay the canal with a tamper then add a paver base before laying the bricks.
  • Now start playing the edge pavers while tapping them with a rubber mallet. If you need to, you may use a level to ensure they are on the same level. But the most important thing is to provide a setting that looks excellent and in line with other pavers.

Lastly, you may insert the paver’s base between them to ensure they stay in place firmly.

You may repeat the same process if you have more than one tree. Later on, you may plant some flowers within the ring you have created for aesthetic purposes or add flavor to your landscaping design.

Can You Put Pavers Over Tree Roots?

You can put pavers over tree roots. Usually, tree roots take time to grow. However, over time they put up pressure on your landscape design, including pavers. When this happens, it’s the noticeable unevenness that makes them unsightly.

When there are signs of uneven concrete or pavers, you wonder whether placing pavers over roots is worth it. As it is, putting pavers over tree roots is not the best way because of expected results. Nevertheless, because of the landscaping design, you might not have a choice.

Not only do the tree roots affect the pavers, but they might also even affect your patio or any other landscaping components. So far, we’ve looked into methods of preventing roots from doing more damage to your pavers.

Otherwise, if you do not control the roots, they might end up uprooting an entire section of pavers.

Besides their environmental impact, trees tend to add beauty and life to the landscape.

When they are close to each other, they tend to compete for resources. One critical element they compete for is moisture, which forces the roots to grow further, invading your paver’s space.

As far as choosing pavers or concrete is concerned, pavers are more tree-friendly. In essence, pavers are easier to handle than concrete when tree roots invasion is concerned. Tree roots damage on concrete is more challenging to manage than with pavers. 

Pavers are flexible and allow motion. Conversely, repairing concrete is costlier because you have to remove the entire section then pour the concrete again. Of course, the fixed units will be noticeable even after repairs.

You can never be sure of the behavior of tree roots as far as invading your pavers is concerned. But if you prepare accordingly, you can control any expected damage when it occurs.

The bottom line is that you can fix pavers’ over tree roots. If you put up the proper measurements, the tree roots will not affect the pavers.

How‌ ‌Do‌ ‌You‌ ‌Kill‌ ‌Tree‌ ‌Roots‌ ‌Under‌ ‌Concrete?‌

First of all, cut the roots even though you will feel tired than usual because you have to dig around the tree.

Once you reach the roots, then you can cut them using loppers or a saw. However, avoid going in too hard on the roots as you may kill the tree in the process.

Use the following formula. Measure the tree’s diameter, then multiply that number by 8. The resulting figure should give you the minimum distance from the tree to trim your roots without causing critical injury.

It would be best if you dug a trench. The trench will help you cut the roots once or twice a year. But as a more lasting solution, that’s where the barrier comes in. You have to go deeper to set up the barrier, as we had indicated earlier.

The ideal materials for barrier include:

  • Galvanized metal roofing
  • Thick plastic material
  • The herbicide induced commercial materials

Still, Trifularin herbicide is best for curbing the growth of wayward roots.

Next, kill the suckers with chemicals. It is common for trees to grow new suckers once you cut the root. This means that the root will make a comeback shortly. Not so much a permanent solution, is it?

The problem is that most of the suckering plants tend to thrive. Even when applying herbicides, you need to observe that it does not translocate to the other parts of the tree. To deal with the suckers, use herbicides containing triclopyr or glyphosate.

After you’ve dealt with the roots, move on to repairing the damaged concrete. It will require you to clear the section and pour out new concrete as you had done before. But you should note that the roots can go elsewhere, such as where piping or plumbing is because the tree is still alive.

Meticulously take out the damaged concrete without damaging the delicate roots. Next, lay a geotextile fabric around the tree, allowing at least six inches of dirt all the way around. Leave 12 inches of clear soil around the tree if the tree is large.

Place the concrete base in the section and then pour it back to the original space.

Final Thoughts

So far, we’ve seen that you can have pavers and a tree in the same area with a resolved conflict. All you have to do is put in the suitable measures even before you place your pavers or do so when the tree roots start showing up.

You have learned the process of handling tree roots if they start affecting your pavers. And also the methods to kill tree roots without killing the tree.

Of course, the more straightforward process and most permanent is if you choose to cut or uproot the entire tree. But because of the vital role trees play, most people don’t want to cut them. However, it gets tricky when the roots start interfering with your pavers or concrete.

If you follow the procedures shared here, you’ll deal with the tree roots menace. Now you know how to tackle pavers around a tree. The bottom line is that you can maintain your backyard beauty all year round with the proper measures. Do not allow your well-laid pavers to look shabby out of negligence.



Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.