We have a maple tree, one of whose roots is causing patio pavers to rise. The pavers are 10 - 12 feet from the tree. Should I either chisel off enough to level the pavers or remove the section of root? What is the recommended approach?

enter image description here


It is not worth modifying the pavers as the root(s) will continue to grow and lift. I can't plant anything in my yard without cutting roots, usually the size of you photo or smaller. I recently (one year ago) cut 2" and 4" roots about 3 ft. from an oak and it did not bother the tree. I have cut 4" roots from pines a few times , the reason I avoid it is that it is a lot work in a difficult location ; I have never seen a tree show any stress. I can't imagine cutting any roots 10 feet from a tree having a significant effect on the tree. I have "bare root" transplanted 3" silver maples and red buds , that is significant root loss, and never had a problem ( done when dormant). This remind me I have to cut a few 2" roots of a fig tree as they are on the surface and getting to be a problem for tripping and lawn mowing.

  • This is true. Construction crews cut through mature tree roots all the time. It's not going to do any major long term damage. When I work as a nursery man, every couple years the rows between the trees would be plowed to keep each tree in its own area. Usually that would mean the tree might be a little sad and could not be sold until the next season, but it did not long term damage. That is a young tree, meaning its more susceptible to being hurt versus a tree that can have roots many many metres below the surface. Some surface root remove will be fine.
    – GardenGems
    Nov 17 '19 at 6:03

If you cut or chisel the roots you damage the tree. This close to the tree trunk will cause die back.

Raising the soil around the tree will also cause die back unless it's done slowly over a few years.

If the health of the tree is a priority a deck raised on a 2" x 4"'s sitting on a block or slabs will provide a level surface and allow the oxygen that the tree needs to get to the roots.


An arborist we've worked with before looked at our situation and provided this:

First he looked at the drip zone defined by the spread of branches. He then said that, in general, it was okay to cut off a root that was less than one-third of the trunk's diameter outside the drip zone. (This doesn't mean one can do this for all roots outside the drip zone!) So for the root in question - out it will go.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.