How To Fix Sidewalks Lifted by Tree Roots

Sidewalk Tree Root Damage

Don’t Let Tree Roots Damage Your Sidewalk

Did you know tree roots are among the most common causes of uneven sidewalks? As trees grow, their roots can push against concrete and cause cracks, gaps, and lifting. If you’re dealing with this problem, it’s important to act fast. Southern Asphalt Engineering provides quality concrete sidewalk services. We know how to fix sidewalks lifted by tree roots quickly and effectively so you can get back to enjoying safe, attractive sidewalks.


Understanding the Impact of Tree Roots

While a row of trees shading a sidewalk can look lovely, it can also lead to many issues. Sidewalks near trees often become uneven over time, and in some cases, they may develop large cracks. In addition to looking unsightly, this also leads to dangerously crooked surfaces that can cause major accidents.


How Tree Roots Damage Sidewalks

Tree roots push through the soil for oxygen, water, and nutrients. This shoves the soil to the side and disrupts any concrete sitting on top of the roots. Not only do tree roots disturb the foundation of a sidewalk, but they also tend to worsen small cracks. Roots will grow through cracks because these spots have more air and water, and they’ll widen the cracks over time.


Identifying Risk Factors

Not all trees by sidewalks cause sidewalk cracking. You’re more likely to encounter issues if you have any of these risk factors for trees and sidewalks:

  • Sidewalks within three feet of a tree
  • Trees with large surface roots like maples or banyans
  • Very large, mature trees like live oaks
  • Poorly installed sidewalks
  • Shifting, unstable soil with a lot of sand



Preventative Measures

Fortunately, there are a lot of preventative measures in place for property owners concerned about sidewalk cracking or a raised sidewalk. Here are the main ways to prevent tree root damage to sidewalks and curbs.


Tree Placement and Urban Planning

Whenever you plan to add trees and sidewalks to a location, it’s essential to avoid placing trees too close to sidewalks. A tree with a maximum height of 30 feet should be planted at least 4 feet from the sidewalk. Meanwhile, trees that reach 40 feet high need to be at least 6 feet from the sidewalk. Landscapers can also help by choosing trees without many shallow, broad roots. Options like palms and ginkgos may be ideal.


Root Barriers and Protective Installations

Your concrete walkway contractors can reduce your risk of sidewalk cracking by installing suitable underground materials near the sidewalk. Root barriers that run along a sidewalk can redirect roots and encourage them to grow in less disruptive patterns. There are also tree grates that can reduce the risk of above-ground roots growing at the base of a tree trunk.


Repair Techniques for Lifted Sidewalks

If you want to learn how to fix sidewalks lifted by tree roots, you have many options. Our expert sidewalk contractors will guide you through the concrete sidewalk repair process and help you restore your sidewalks. 


Assessing the Damage

The first step in how to fix sidewalks lifted by tree roots is to have your property examined by experts. You need to discover whether any portion of the sidewalk is still structurally sound and learn whether the tree roots damage it from underneath or from the side. You might even need an arborist to assess the tree and let you know if adjusting the roots will harm the tree. Once you have this information, you can repair or replace the sidewalk.


Practical Repair Methods

Each raised sidewalk needs a solution tailored to its own specific needs. However, even though the exact techniques used will vary slightly, most methods for how to fix sidewalks lifted by tree roots will follow these general steps:

  1. Breaking up and removing the concrete in areas with tree root sidewalk damage
  2. Repositioning the sidewalk to a farther away location or raising it on piers if you want to avoid affecting the tree
  3. Cutting or shaving down tree roots to provide room for the new sidewalk if you can safely do so without damaging the tree
  4. Installing underground root barriers to prevent further root intrusions
  5. Repaving the sidewalk with smooth, uncracked, brand-new concrete



Long-Term Maintenance and Care

Even the most high-quality sidewalks benefit from occasional care. A sidewalk maintenance plan is essential to avoid dealing with tree root removal under concrete or other issues.


Routine Inspections and Maintenance

Tree root damage to sidewalks and curbs doesn’t happen overnight. Identifying problems as soon as they arise is often easier to fix. For example, if you notice a small area of minor tree root sidewalk damage, you may be able to remove the roots, patch the crack, and avoid having to redo the entire sidewalk. During your routine inspections, check for these signs you might need concrete sidewalk repair:

  • Hairline cracks
  • Increasing gaps between concrete sections
  • Sunken or raised areas of concrete
  • Crumbling pieces of concrete
  • Sidewalk sections shifting out of alignment



Collaborating With Arborists

For best results, you also need to focus on tree care. Arborists can ensure you end up with trees with deep, non-disruptive taproots instead of shallow, spreading lateral roots that destroy sidewalks. Their services are essential for addressing concerns about trees and finding effective solutions for managing your sidewalks and landscaping.



When you’re looking for walkway contractors, Southern Asphalt Engineering is an excellent choice. Our team of professionals can assist you with everything from preventing sidewalk damage to handling tree root removal under concrete. We’ll carefully assess your property and ensure you end up with a smooth, even sidewalk that’s both safe to walk on and pleasant to look at.

To get started on your personalized sidewalk repair estimate, contact us now.

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