Roots and Hardscapes
Although roots can tolerate living close to hard surfaces, they can also do great damage to them. Compaction of the soil is necessary to create a foundation for flat surfaces like patios and walkways. Because roots follow the path of least resistance, they will often grow through the tiny soil fissures beneath the hardscape. Hard surfaces like brick, concrete, or asphalt may crack and lift as a result of a tree’s roots growing beneath them. This occurrence, known as “root heave,” causes damage that is both ugly and possibly dangerous.
Trees can cause problems for nearby building foundations by finding small cracks that they will grow into causing larger cracks. Over time, this will cause structural damage to the foundation. Additionally, if a tree root contracts a wood decay fungus, the disease will disintegrate the root and cause soil shifting. This soil movement can drastically affect whatever is above ground.
What you need to know
Planting new trees
Planting a tree with ample space to reach its full potential will help you avoid issues later on. It may surprise you to learn that a tree’s root system can span two to four times the width of the tree’s crown. Before choosing, find out the mature height and branch spread of the tree. Since trees typically grow to be large and tall, they require the same amount of room below ground as they do above. As the roots spread horizontally, a tree placed too close to hardscapes, house foundations, pools, etc., will frequently cause issues.
A big health danger to trees is compaction, which is brought on by the soil becoming compacted around the root zone. The air and water pores in the soil that tree roots need to grow are blocked by this constriction. Numerous factors can contribute to compaction, such as negligent lawn care, cars parked in or over the tree root zone, flooding, inadequate drainage, and the majority of unsupervised building projects. Preventing compaction in the first place is the greatest treatment for it. Since that is an uncommon occurrence, use pneumatic air tools to loosen the soil to address compaction. Replace it with soil that is appropriate for your tree’s growth requirements. Consult an arborist if you are unsure of what you require.
Cover with the correct material
Sometimes homeowners use black plastic to cover a root system and top it with mulch to create a more pleasing aesthetic and prevent weeds. Plastic creates an anaerobic, or low oxygen, environment. When covered with plastic, roots won’t receive the necessary oxygen, water,r or nutrients needed to stay healthy.
If you must cover the roots of your tree, composted wood chip mulch without the plastic barrier underneath is a wonderful way to cover your roots and still maintain their health. Don’t use too much of a good thing! Read up on mulch dos and don’ts.
The health of your tree is directly related to its growing environment. Keep the roots healthy and viable by not driving over them, cutting them indiscriminately, or placing black plastic on the ground on top of them. A professional arborist can assess your landscape and ensure the health of your trees. Contact Johnson Ops Tree Care at 608 526-6297 for an assessment of your landscape