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Fix'n it 04-03-2013 10:18 PM

digging surface roots
i have a place where i would like to widen a walk. i put in a 1' wide walk there, just pavers. and boy, what PITA it was digging down 4" = tons of roots. 1"ish and smaller. i am looking for a easier way to dig out this area about 1' wider for a better walk.

cibula11 04-04-2013 08:21 AM

As you probably know digging roots can be an issue for not only the sidewalk, but the tree as well. Eventually, over time, these roots will cause problems to the walkway. If the roots are beneath the canopy of the tree I might be a bit more concerned as to how many you are removing.

I think no matter the method, its going to be pretty labor intensive.

joecaption 04-04-2013 08:32 AM

I'd use a trenching machine and make a pass down both sides at least a few feet away from the walk to cut them off.
If not this is going to come back to haunt you latter on when the walk starts lifting up.

wkearney99 04-04-2013 08:50 AM

Yeah, you have to take into account what's sent out all those roots. If it's just nearby shrubs, and they have enough coverage elsewhere then it might not be a big deal. But if it's roots from a tree then you want to understand just how removing them is going to harm it.

When we wanted to install a garden and rented a tiller, we discovered a nearly indestructible layer of roots from what used to be a nearby cherry bush. It was laborious ripping them out. Their tended to totally clog up the tiller. Ended up having to rip much out them out manually with a pick axe and pruning tools. Only then could we use the tiller. Along the way we discovered why there were so many roots along the surface, the subsoil was an almost impenetrable layer of clay.

Anyway, make sure about the roots first...

Fix'n it 04-04-2013 09:14 PM

i don't care about the tree, it is coming down someday. the walk is only temporary (2 years or so). until i build a deck.

wkearney99 04-05-2013 06:57 AM

You'll care about the tree if the roots you disturb kill it and it falls on the house or someone unlucky enough to be nearby.

It depends a lot on the species of the tree and how it's grown into the local soil conditions. If you manage to kill enough of them that the tree no longer holds itself up properly, you dramatically increase the likelihood of it being toppled over when you get rain and wind. It's the combination of weak roots, a fair bit of rain and sometimes only a bit of wind that leads to trees falling over. Wet, loose soil and missing roots makes it much more likely.

Know that some areas now have very specific regulations regarding how trees are managed. You often can't just remove them any more. The fines can be pretty steep.

It's up to you, but I'd put a lot more care into the process before seriously disturbing tree roots.

Fix'n it 04-06-2013 08:19 AM

i am cutting the tree down. one of these days. i need to find the most economical way to top it off, i may rent a bucket truck, or pay to have it done. then i can do the rest.

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