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Old 06-22-2008, 04:49 PM   #1
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Walkway near big trees--how to deal with roots!


Everyone uses the side gate to enter our yard because there is parking on that side. There is approx. 12-14' to our porch which is a couple feet off the ground with three concrete steps to walk up to get on the porch. There are wooden handrails on either side of the steps and a large 10' deep porch and side door that everyone comes in to enter. The problem is the walkway from the gate to the concrete steps. This area is shaded on the left by a very old Magnolia tree with large roots, many that have risen above ground. On the right is a large old Pecan tree that has roots above ground but not as many. There are old square concrete stepping stones with pebbles embedded as a walkway. These stepping stones are too far apart and far from level. One has pushed up at one corner and is especially troublesome. My elderly parents with canes have great difficulty maneuvering this walkway to come up on the porch--even with our help! I want to put in a walkway that will be smoother and more level but I don't know what to do about the tree roots and also the bottom step (or base) of the concrete steps seems to have sunken in a bit so that it is lower than the ground around it. Water doesn't really collect and stand there when it rains, but it seems like the walkway would have to first be dug out to be slightly below that first step or base so rainwater would drain away from the house. If the roots are cut, will the trees die? This Magnolia tree is HUGE and this portion of the roots is a very, very small percentage of the total root system. The walkway is about 5-6' from the actual trunk of this bigger Magnolia tree. The pecan tree roots are minimal and would be easier to eliminate but it is a smaller tree and I am afraid cutting roots on it would create a bigger problem because they are a larger % of the total tree. Does all this make sense?

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Old 06-23-2008, 05:21 AM   #2
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Walkway near big trees--how to deal with roots!


I hope someone will come up with a better plan than cutting the roots,this is not a good idea. Maybe filling in with top soil and putting down pavers?

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Old 06-24-2008, 08:46 PM   #3
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Walkway near big trees--how to deal with roots!


I just measured and the big Magnolia tree is actually about 10-1/2 feet from the walkway. The smaller pecan tree is about 3-1/2 foot from the walkway on the other side. The base of the concrete steps is actually three square concrete stepping stones placed next to each other and the last concrete step is only 4 inches above those. When you stand on the bottom step it looks like the ground slopes up slightly toward the gate. If it is not good to cut the roots would it be better to build up the path, filling in with dirt or gravel or rock dust? Would that mean I would need to cover up the base of the concrete steps, even perhaps raising that part of the walkway 4 inches to the bottom step? I want to make sure the drainage is good. My house is pier and beam and there is about 18-24 inches between the ground and the bottom of the floor joists.
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Old 06-25-2008, 04:19 AM   #4
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Walkway near big trees--how to deal with roots!


If you want to keep your trees,I would think anything would be better than cutting the roots,remember the feeder roots extend to the drip line of the tree.
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Old 06-25-2008, 04:49 PM   #5
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Walkway near big trees--how to deal with roots!


Thanks for your response. Some of the larger Magnolia roots stick up really high. Would it damage the roots to shave them down--or slice off the top of the rounded top part of the old, gnarly roots?
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Old 06-25-2008, 05:59 PM   #6
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Walkway near big trees--how to deal with roots!


Would it damage the roots to shave them down--or slice off the top of the rounded top part of the old, gnarly roots?

Absolutely, you would be better off covering them with good topsoil and planting grass.
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Old 06-25-2008, 07:40 PM   #7
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Walkway near big trees--how to deal with roots!


It's too shady for grass to grow--the Magnolia tree is huge and the pecan tree also has large limbs and leaves and provides lots of shade. The Magnolia tree keeps leaves all year. I need something smooth to walk on, especially for my elderly parents who use canes, and my dad sometimes has to use a walker.
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Old 06-26-2008, 04:40 AM   #8
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Walkway near big trees--how to deal with roots!


I am not a landscaper by trade,so am fresh out of ideas. There are many real landscapers here,hopefully someone with more knowledge will chime in.
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Old 06-30-2008, 11:18 PM   #9
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Walkway near big trees--how to deal with roots!


How about using smaller flagstone pieces? I have them around a large Linden tree and because they are smaller you can meld them into the ground as you go. It makes the path look well traveled and lived in.
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Old 06-30-2008, 11:46 PM   #10
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Walkway near big trees--how to deal with roots!


You'd have to pay someone to do it, but pervious concrete is great for installing walkways and patios under the dripline of large trees. It would have to be set on a gravel base, but would yeild a nice path in your situation. You might need to bring in some topsoil to cover the roots on either side of the path, since the path would likely be built above grade a little but.

Pervious concrete is not a DIY project, and most batch plants won't sell it to you unless you're specially certified to install it. That's the case around here at least. So you'd have to involve a certified contractor.

Pervious concrete is basically the consistency of a concrete rice krispy treat. It lets water and air infiltrate the earth below.
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Old 07-01-2008, 11:19 AM   #11
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Walkway near big trees--how to deal with roots!


I don't think I have ever seen pervious concrete before. I did go out to a stone and marble place that sells the chips and stone dust. A couple of nurseries around here use it for walkway material and it packs down hard and looks good. I don't know if that would work with roots or not but it could be fit around roots.
How do I go about finding out if anyone in my area works with or installs pervious concrete?
Thanks so much for your suggestions. I appreciate everyone who has posted.
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Old 07-01-2008, 01:34 PM   #12
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Walkway near big trees--how to deal with roots!


Quote:
Originally Posted by jetstover View Post
I don't think I have ever seen pervious concrete before. I did go out to a stone and marble place that sells the chips and stone dust. A couple of nurseries around here use it for walkway material and it packs down hard and looks good. I don't know if that would work with roots or not but it could be fit around roots.
How do I go about finding out if anyone in my area works with or installs pervious concrete?
Thanks so much for your suggestions. I appreciate everyone who has posted.
I would suggest contacting concrete batch plants in your area directly. Determine if they sell it, and they will recommend installers to you. The Concrete Promotion Group (a general concrete industry rep) normally has a representative (and website) in major metro areas, and they have links to pervious installers on their website.
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Old 07-02-2008, 05:50 PM   #13
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Walkway near big trees--how to deal with roots!


Ill see what I can find out about the concrete. I live in a small town--a hundred miles east of Houston.
Regarding the small flagstone pieces. Is it possible to get scrap pieces of flagstone on the cheap?
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Old 07-02-2008, 06:21 PM   #14
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Walkway near big trees--how to deal with roots!


google: covering tree roots with dirt
and read the various responses. Seems that in general, you shouldn't cover tree roots as they somehow suffocate (don't ask me how). How pervious concrete would prevent this I don't know either but it might; I'd like to see results of some long-term use before I'd put it under a specimen tree. Why not check with local arborist or agriculture extension office for additional advice? One site suggested bark mulch but that wouldn't work too well for someone with a walker.
Good luck.
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Old 06-15-2011, 06:03 PM   #15
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Walkway near big trees--how to deal with roots!


I know it's been a while since anyone has posted about this but I'm hitting the same problem. While this isn't a solution for me, it may be for you. Are you able to build a wood deck walkway to the steps? This way, it's raised a bit and the roots can do whatever they want below the deck.

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