Whenever we are working on a property distinguished by large, stately trees, we have to sometimes use very innovative landscaping strategies to protect tree roots. Structures built too closely to the trunks of trees require a certain amount of digging to be secured to the earth, and the sheer force of gravity will settle any structure of significant weight even further into the ground. To avoid damaging trees that may be hundreds of years old, we employee a variety of tree root protection strategies to ensure that tree roots are protected anytime we are laying stone work or foundation nearby.
A recent example of this occurred on River Oaks landscaping project where we were hired to perform a number of landscaping upgrades and new constructions. One of the new constructions that the homeowner requested we complete on this project was the creation of a new walkway that would encircle a portion of the front yard, cross over a primary walkway, and wind around the home to the back, where the swimming pool was located. This secondary walkway was a proposed new structure which would run underneath several very stately oak trees. To install it, we would need to utilize some very innovative and environmentally friendly stone work to ensure tree root protection.
The reason we have to be so careful is due to the way that tree roots grow. Roots fan out in all directions, and many of the larger ones run parallel to the surface of the earth, just underneath the ground. One of the things that stoneworkers must avoid at all costs is digging too deep into the ground with tools. Spades and other implements can cut a root deeply enough to kill it and severely injure, or even possibly kill, even the largest of trees. This represents a significant challenge to the landscaper, who typically digs down six inches, lays a concrete slab as a base, then sets the stones over this concrete and fixes them together with mortar. This simply could not be done on this project, because even if we had somehow avoided cutting into the tree roots, there would have been no way to protect them from the pressure of people walking over them and pressing a concrete slab directly down upon their surfaces. In order to fulfill our clients expectations, we would either have to landscape around the tree roots, or devise a strategy of securely laying stones far enough above the roots that they would be protected from the weight and pressure of human foot traffic.
After careful study of both the landscaping plan and the trees themselves, our designers came up with a plan that would protect tree roots and still create a very solid, sturdy walkway for people to travel on. First, we replaced standard digging implements with air and water tools known as an air space and hydrovac. These allowed us to remove a layer of dirt and water without destructive impact to the tree roots. Once we excavated to an appropriate depth, we laid down plastic before a thin layer of concrete, then custom cut each stone so precisely that the individual limestone blocks fit together seamlessly. To prevent them from slipping when people walked on them, we secured the edges of the flat blocks with just enough mortar to bind them together in much the same manner that glue would bind two pieces of wood.
This process both protected tree roots both during construction of the walkway and after completion of the walkway. There is no concrete slab that was graded down into the roots of the trees.
If you have been hesitating on moving forward on plans to renovate or recreate the landscape features surrounding your home because you are concerned about damage to your trees, please give us a call at (713) 827-2255 and schedule an evaluation with one of our landscape designers. We can explain in detail how we employ tree protection techniques that will protect your tree roots and other indigenous vegetation while simultaneously adding an entirely new look to your property.