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Old 10-06-2012, 10:37 AM   #1
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Help with 50 y/o maple & concrete...


I've got a detached garage that is 15' from this 50 year old silver maple that I do not want to get rid of or jeopardize killing. My garage is about 24" off of the property line and I cannot move or build any closer.

The problem with this situation is that over time, the roots have buckled and ruined the slab of the garage. I cannot afford to completely rebuild the garage, so I have an idea to lift the structure in order to rebuild the foundation of the garage.

My questions are regarding the tree. If I am able to successfully lift the structure and demo the foundation, how can I help protect the new slab without killing the tree? From what I have read, cutting roots any more than 20' from the trunk will severely stress the tree and harm or kill it.

If I were to add a foot or so of dirt on top of the roots before pouring concrete would it help act as a buffer between the slab and the roots or would the roots just grow towards the concrete effectively ruining it again?

I am not planning to be here for much longer, but this is something that needs to be addressed. One corner of the garage is 2" lower than the opposing, and that entire side is falling.

Any help is appreciated!

Graham

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Old 10-06-2012, 11:42 AM   #2
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Help with 50 y/o maple & concrete...


Hi Graham,

I can't answer your question about the concrete as I'm no expert on foundations. However, I can tell you that adding a layer of dirt to a tree while doing construction/foundation work can (may) kill your tree by suffocating it. Trees need aerated ground to grow. If you drop a heavy load on their roots, they can die back quickly.

Now this is extreme (I'm talking over a yard of dirt) which based on your post would be the amount you are intending.

HOWEVER, the good news is this:

Acer saccharinum is extremely hardy and adaptable to poor soil conditions so it MAY rebound with no real damage.
It is also a fast growing tree.

The BAD news is that you won't stop it from invading again. This tree is known for pushing up foundations, sidewalks, and growing into septic pipes. The reason is that it LOVES moist/damp ground conditions.

I'm like you. I don't like to remove trees, especially Maples. In your case, however, I would consider it. According to the US Forest Department of Agriculture "There are too many other superior trees to warrant wide use of this species but it does have its place in tough sites away from buildings and people. It grows extremely fast so creates almost instant shade, making this a popular tree among homeowners throughout its hardiness range."

I might look into another fast growing species to replace it in a distanced location from your foundation. Of course that is a long-term solution because removing would probably cost some dough. Removing my 50 yo Elm that was about 100ft tall cost my insurance company $8,000.

A picture would help if you have one.

Edit to add: My husband owned a landscaping business for years and he has a special love for Maples. I spoke with him about your problem and he reminded me that we had the same problem with our Elm years ago way before we had to remove it due to a lightening strike. We removed lots of roots from the ground.

He said to visualize the canopy of the tree as the root structure. Selectively cut back sections as if you were pruning the tree. You can probably cut 7-10 feet sections without any problem. One thing to remember is that the tree will probably weaken temporarily. You want to prune the roots back enough but still let new roots have aerated soil to grow. Just fill the holes back in with regular soil. This will probably fix the root problem for about 10-15 years.

Also, he asks if you are planning to use expanding concrete to mud-jack the corner of the foundation.

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Last edited by shadytrake; 10-06-2012 at 12:04 PM. Reason: After further discussion with an expert.
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Old 10-06-2012, 03:33 PM   #3
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Help with 50 y/o maple & concrete...


Removing the tree is out of the question as I cannot afford it. Mud-jacking the concrete is out of the question as well since the garage slab was poured in '62 and just turns to dust and sand as you walk over it. The cracks are so big mice have taken refuge in it and in the spring weeds grow on the inside. My intentions were to raise the structure up high enough to work underneath it while being safely supported and replace the slab. I also wanted to build a block wall to raise the structure. It currently has 7' ceilings and a 6'3" overhead door opening. I use the garage as a workshop as well, so I need a smooth floor surface. If it was just for parking I would not really care about it.
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Old 10-06-2012, 03:36 PM   #4
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Help with 50 y/o maple & concrete...


This is an older picture, but you can get an idea of the size of the tree in comparison to the garage.
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Old 10-06-2012, 06:33 PM   #5
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Help with 50 y/o maple & concrete...


digging a trench line along the side of that garage down to any root heading to the garage .... saw-zzzzal them off the root system waiting till the tree goes dormant for the fall then start the surgery
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:01 PM   #6
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Help with 50 y/o maple & concrete...


Your going to just have to make a choise. loose the tree and have the stump ground down or loose the house.
Your lucky so far it's only distroyed the garage. Only a matter of time.
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:11 PM   #7
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Help with 50 y/o maple & concrete...


Few years ago, my neighbor expanded his paver driveway which required cutting into my tree roots from their side (the tree was not as big as yours but it was about 60-70 years old).

I consulted with an arborist and he recommended two things:

1. feed the tree with some type of nitrogen based "food" (can't remember exactly but the arborist injected it with a huge "needle"; it cost around $250)

2. have their landscaper use a chainsaw, rather than an excavator, to cleanly cut the root (cutting was done in late october)

Knock on wood, my tree has remained healthy.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by allthumbsdiy; 10-06-2012 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:15 PM   #8
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Help with 50 y/o maple & concrete...


I must not understand your plan very well. You say you cannot afford to remove the tree. You cannot afford to mudjack the garage. But you propose to lift the garage, then build a block wall?? to support the garage, and presumably pour a new slab since the old slab will now be several feet too low. And fill in the old garage floor to support the new floor. Your plan if I understand correctly is likely to be more expensive than removing the tree, and possibly more expensive than mudjacking, if that is even feasible. I don't see how you can afford it, given your comments about your current financial situation. But maybe I misunderstand your plan.
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Old 10-07-2012, 08:27 PM   #9
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Help with 50 y/o maple & concrete...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
I must not understand your plan very well. You say you cannot afford to remove the tree. You cannot afford to mudjack the garage.

Where did you read that?? The OP simply said it's not worth attempting to salvage the existing slab, as it's junk.......

But you propose to lift the garage, then build a block wall?? to support the garage, and presumably pour a new slab since the old slab will now be several feet too low.

Oh boy, you REALLY don't understand.........


And fill in the old garage floor to support the new floor. Your plan if I understand correctly is likely to be more expensive than removing the tree, and possibly more expensive than mudjacking, if that is even feasible. I don't see how you can afford it, given your comments about your current financial situation. But maybe I misunderstand your plan.

To the OP, tree are relatively hardy, and it's likely that this tree has been through more than you & I will ever encounter in our lifetime's. Cutting a few roots may stress it slightly, but if it dies, it wasn't going to live much longer anyways. Cut any roots within 4-6" of the bottom of the slab and don't be concerned with it. I've probably cut 100 face cords worth of roots from the ground in my career, and I can't say that I've even killed one tree yet......
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Old 10-07-2012, 09:17 PM   #10
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Help with 50 y/o maple & concrete...


Daniel, as jomama45 said, you did not read my post fully and do not understand. The existing slab is garbage. It turns to dust and sand when you sweep it, walk on it, or look at it. And it is sinking on the side of the garage opposite the tree. It has to be replaced. Yes, I do want to lift the structure, build a block wall underneath it, and then pour a new slab. This will cost me nothing but materials, some time, and borrowing some tools. I will not hire anyone to do anything. Coming up with $5k-8k to remove this tree is something I do not have. Coming up with a few hundred here and there for materials and working on the project in between paying for materials is something I can do.


@joemama45- From your experience, what is the closest you have cut the roots to the tree? As my original post said, I'm around 15'. Your thoughts? Thanks for your insight.
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:14 PM   #11
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Help with 50 y/o maple & concrete...


Hi Graham,

You can go up to within 7 feet of the base for a couple large roots. Smaller roots can be cut closer but remember they are the ones that actively grow faster in the spring so cut 5-10 of them and leave some healthy ones behind. It's all about selective pruning.

Good luck and post pictures of your progress.

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