Tree Roots Ruining Your Sidewalk?

With SUMMER finally upon us, many Oregonians are heading out into their landscapes to weed, mulch and prepare the lawn, garden and landscape beds for a season of enjoyment.  It seems a double-edged sword…the satisfaction that comes when the yard work is finished and everything looks beautiful, but to get there comes a long “to do” list and many hours of hard work.  Did you know that street trees (the trees that are planted between the sidewalks and street…also referred to as boulevard trees) require maintenance and that this is the responsibility of the homeowner?  Although the “right of way” is considered city property, care of street trees does usually fall on the property owner.  Most cities have street tree codes which require the tree limbs and branches to be trimmed 8′ feet over the sidewalks and 12’ over the street.  City codes usually also require sidewalks be seamless and buckle-free and the city may assess fines and penalties to the property owner if sidewalks are in disrepair.

Do you have street trees that are causing sidewalk problems?   Some trees are much better suited than others to be planted near sidewalks, driveways and walkways.  If you have a street tree that has over-grown its space and your sidewalks are showing signs of damage, NOW is the time to check your options.  In most cases, if sidewalks are already beginning to show signs of buckling, you will likely want to consider root pruning or removal of the existing trees and replacement with a better suited tree variety.  It is typically more cost effective to replace and replant street trees than to repair and/or replace concrete sidewalks.  

Below are photos from a recent street tree replacement project we worked on.  The homeowners noticed their sidewalks beginning to rise up from tree roots.  They were also unhappy with the large roots that were surfacing in many places, making it hard to mow and edge.  Upon city approval, Northwest Tree Specialists removed two 20+ year old ornamental pear trees.  The old tree stumps were ground and new hornbeam trees were planted in the original location and costly sidewalk repairs were avoided.