Driveway Around Tree

Can the drive be repaved without damaging the roots?


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


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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