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We have a large Red Maple tree in a large back yard. The roots have pushed up the concrete on a walkway. I have a friend who wants to practice concrete work for his university class and is willing to pull up and re-pave this section, but the top of the root will need to be shaved down so that the concrete doesn't have a large bulge in it. I'm estimating that it is a section of about 4 feet long (this is how wide the path is).

Would this hurt the tree?

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I'm sorry to say it will hurt the tree - over time, as they mature, many trees develop buttress roots at their base, but upheaval around the base of a tree, even without buttress roots, is to be expected. The roots are essential to the tree's survival, and should not be cut, shaved or removed.

Perhaps you could replan the walkway to leave space around the base of the tree to accommodate root growth, particularly as it's likely to increase over time. Either that or remove the tree. This is perhaps something your concrete laying friend might wish to remember when doing future work of a similar kind.

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Yes, of course it will hurt the tree - it will be cutting away part of the system that transports water and nutrients to the tree.

Often in cases like this it's best to decide that you want the tree, or walkway, and get rid of the one you don't want. Either that or you need to modify the walkway so that it is compatible with the tree, since trying to modify the tree to be compatible with the walkway is typically either going to result in a slow death for the tree, or a partly-dead tree.

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