Q: I have a white pine tree, very old and large (its trunk is over three feet in diameter), right next to my asphalt-paved driveway. The tree's roots have come up through the driveway over the years. I want to repave my driveway but am afraid to damage the tree's roots for fear of killing the tree or making it susceptible to getting blown down in a high wind. I don't want to lose this majestic tree, but I've got to do something with the driveway. What can I do? – Roger, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A: Roger Cook replies: This is a real dilemma. You're right in your observation that cutting any roots can lead to the decline of the tree or, if enough roots are cut, structural instability. The root system of a large white pine is massive, so you may want to do some hand exploration and see if it is just one root that is the problem. If it's one root, you can cut it.

If it's more than one root, then it's decision time. The options are: remove the tree; put a bend in the new driveway (or relocate it altogether); or pave the driveway with pavers, which will not show cracks if lifted by roots and can easily be lifted and regraded.

When you excavate the old driveway, do so carefully. If any roots are broken, cut them off with a hand saw neatly to promote healing.
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