Tree Roots Damaging Driveway: Should The Tree Be Removed?

A tall, stately tree growing in your front yard can make any home more beautiful, but if the tree starts damaging surrounding structures, it can quickly become more trouble than it is worth. Tree roots are notorious for causing damage to basements, foundation slabs, and sewer lines, but driveways are especially vulnerable to tree root damage.

How Do Tree Roots Damage Driveways?

Tree roots may grow slowly, but they generate incredible force they can grow, allowing them to push through underground obstacles to reach water sources. This force is transmitted into the soil surrounding the roots as they grow, and raises the soil above the roots. If roots start growing underneath your driveway, these massive upward forces push against the bottom of your driveway, causing it to buckle and eventually crack.

If your driveway is fitted with subterranean drains to prevent waterlogging, these can also be badly damaged by tree roots. Roots will readily grow into driveway drainage infrastructure to access the water within, and can wreck French drains and culverts.

How Can You Stop Tree Roots Damaging Your Driveway?

If your driveway has become badly cracked and damaged, and the soil and substrate beneath the driveway has been visibly forced upwards, tree roots are almost certainly to blame. These roots will continue to grow and should be removed before any further damage is done. If the driveway is only damaged in one or two places, you are probably only dealing with a few roots. It may be possible to remove these roots and leave the rest of the tree intact.

However, if the tree roots damaging your driveway are larger, or your tree has relatively few roots, individual root removal can do more harm than good. Root removal invariably weakens a tree and leaves it more vulnerable to disease. Removing load-bearing roots can also leave your tree dangerously unstable, and it may topple in high winds. 

Before you try to tackle your tree root problem, you should always call in a professional tree service company to inspect your tree and its roots. They will be able to determine whether the offending roots can be removed without doing too much damage to the tree.

If the roots can be removed safely, your service can inject copper sulfate into the root, or excavate it so it can be chopped off and removed manually. Both of these root removal procedures are dangerous, and you should never attempt to perform them yourself.

Unfortunately, in many cases, the only way to stop roots from damaging your driveway is to remove the whole tree. Many species will quickly regrow roots to replace lost ones, which can cause even more damage to your driveway. 

If your tree service company determines that felling is the only viable option, they can remove the tree using sectional removal techniques. This involves removing the tree in sections from the top down, and it minimizes the risk of damage to your home. They can also excavate and remove the stump, which may be necessary if the tree is from a species that can regrow from stumps.

Speak to a tree removal service to learn more.