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Old 06-17-2020, 12:21 PM
 
Location: Dallas, TX and Las Vegas, NV
6,560 posts, read 5,379,484 times
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I own two single family investment houses which are side by side. On the front lawn of one, which is between both places, is a tree that has grown so very large. It is at least double the height of the houses and the limbs are so wide that it covers the entire front yard of its house, and the side yard of the other house.

Recently we replaced the driveway of the house with the tree directly in front, but the other house’s driveway is also pretty seriously cracked. There are no major surface roots, however there are no other trees so I am assuming this tree’s roots are the cause of the driveways breaking up. Its quite a healthy tree and provides nice shade. I am loathe to remove it so am wondering if I have it cut down in height to half its size and dramatically trimmed it that would help resolve the driveway cracking issue. My theory is the size of the tree causes underground roots needing to feed such a large tree which is causing so much movement under the driveways. I might be way off on this....
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Old 06-17-2020, 01:27 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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No, that won't stop it. The big roots that cause damage to sidewalks and driveways are like the tree itself, they add a layer every year, making them thicker. With less foliage there won't be the same demand for water to go to the leaves, so it would slow it down some, but that means it will just take longer to break up the driveway.
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Old 06-17-2020, 01:40 PM
 
Location: Dallas, TX and Las Vegas, NV
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Do you think we should just remove the tree?
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Old 06-17-2020, 02:10 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
33,091 posts, read 60,101,561 times
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Originally Posted by WorldKlas View Post
Do you think we should just remove the tree?
That would be the only way to stop it, but it's a shame to lose the shade and other benefits. Some trees do more root damage than others, you could replace it with something else. Aspens and Flowering Cherries are notorious for damaging roots. Dogwoods, Amur Maple, and Crabapple are some decorative trees that with much less invasive roots. Go to a good nursery that sells good-sized trees and ask for one that does well in your area.
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Old 06-17-2020, 02:42 PM
 
Location: on the wind
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Originally Posted by WorldKlas View Post
Do you think we should just remove the tree?
Or, consider turning the problem around...remove the concrete and keep the tree. Would a clean gravel/soft surface driveway be feasible?

Last edited by Parnassia; 06-17-2020 at 03:19 PM..
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Old 06-17-2020, 02:58 PM
 
13,313 posts, read 18,310,602 times
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You have to remove root system or kill it. You can drill holes in asphalt or concrete, above the root, to get into it, and pump in something that will destroy the root. Like super concentrated salt solution.

Removing tree will NOT remove roots. Even if you stump grind it down several feet into the ground.

And I know your pain.
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Old 06-17-2020, 03:10 PM
 
Location: NC
7,585 posts, read 9,572,258 times
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Don't remove the tree without proving that it is the cause of the driveway cracks. The soil under the driveway may have been undermined by water or decaying materials. The original pour may not have been perfect. Clay soil may have swollen and dried. The roots may not be the problem.

The tree is a really valuable asset, so maybe if it took 10+ years for the drive to crack (for example), just take up the old cement, evaluate the established roots and soil, and if possible just pour a new driveway with expansion joints or whatever they are called to handle any minor future changes.

The feeder roots of trees (these take up water and fertilizer) are very fine and cause no trouble. Keeping the tree the same mass as now will slow further thickening of the primary roots. A little judicious pruning every couple years would handle that, but it might not be necessary based on what you see under the current driveway.
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Old 06-17-2020, 03:37 PM
 
Location: Dallas, TX and Las Vegas, NV
6,560 posts, read 5,379,484 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parnassia View Post
Or, consider turning the problem around...remove the concrete and keep the tree. Would a clean gravel/soft surface driveway be feasible?
This is in an HOA suburban neighborhood where homogenous driveways are required throughout the subdivision.
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Old 06-17-2020, 04:00 PM
 
Location: on the wind
11,714 posts, read 5,364,867 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WorldKlas View Post
This is in an HOA suburban neighborhood where homogenous driveways are required throughout the subdivision.
Understandable. No, pruning the tree won't really affect existing roots, and trying to cut them back could weaken or kill the tree itself creating other headaches. I'd agree with reevaluating the soil under the driveway, considering re-configuring it with expansion joints.

About time for the predictable "I'd never buy/own a house in an HOA!" reply. Three, two, one...
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Old 06-17-2020, 05:35 PM
 
Location: Dallas, TX and Las Vegas, NV
6,560 posts, read 5,379,484 times
Reputation: 14476
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parnassia View Post
Understandable. No, pruning the tree won't really affect existing roots, and trying to cut them back could weaken or kill the tree itself creating other headaches. I'd agree with reevaluating the soil under the driveway, considering re-configuring it with expansion joints.

About time for the predictable "I'd never buy/own a house in an HOA!" reply. Three, two, one...
Ahh.... but for rental property I love HOA’s, keeps the neighborhood to a standard and I get notified if there’s a problem. I really like that.
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