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Ensuring I don't damage tree extending a path (and tree identification)



I would appreciate some wise words regarding avoiding damaging a tree creating a path.


I want to extend a path which previously exited adjacently onto my drive to the pavement. I don't want to use gravel for various reasons. I've removed 20-30cm of earth and exposed a medium (~7cm diameter) and large root (11cm diameter) in a section of the area. From googling, it seems cutting these may be detrimental to the health of the tree, given the size? 


Not sure what type of tree it is, the trunk is 33cm diameter, its been there for many years and previously used to be surrounded by conifers now removed form this area. 


Using pictures as a reference:

Green shows where existing paving ended.

The blue area is where I plan to just use hardcore, however I read compacting the ground can be bad?

Directly over the roots I could bridge the area with a steel frame and support around the root, use paving pedestals or something similar... however I would still need to cut 2cm from the top of the root to reduce its height (to the same height as the part of the root that's grown under the paving slab).  


I just don't have enough understanding about what is likely to be too much for the tree. 






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So cannot suggest not digging the path just there, that has been done.

To help get a better answer, I assume it is a path for walking on only, what about fully loaded wheel barrows or similar? That might allow you to go shallower with the foundations

How much walking up and down that path will you be doing? Once a week to get a spade out the shed or constantly all weekend while the kids are playing outside type of use?

Top surface going to be slabs still?

How often do you want to relay the path if the roots lift it?


I might be very wrong but a sand foundation might work - it will be better for the roots than hardcore and allow them to grow, however it will need more maintenance in the future to level it off every few years and apply more sand. From personal experience the drive along my garage 'council' style paving slabs (600x400?) is just on 75 - 100mm of sand, foot traffic and the occasional full wheel barrow, being used most days, I've redone some this year for better drainage but has lasted 10 years still being level.




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Thanks guys.

Yeah, ideally I wouldn't put the path there, but the layout is what it is.

Its only for walking on but is the main root to the house  😉 

I wouldn't mind a bit of maintenance if it moves.

I was only thinking of large slabs because if I used blocks I imagine any movement and it they would be all over the place, be more noticeable. 

I don't like gravel as I've had a gravel drive/path before and don't like how it gets everywhere.

I can direct the run off into the main front garden area, out of shot, where the tree presumably gets more of its water. 

The paving slab removed, marked in green, had lifted slightly, but must have been there 30 years and was on sand. 


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Firstly I quite agree with the comments above - its great to see realisation that trees have roots and to excavate around them so carefully.


Secondly, given the age and size of the tree, I wouldn't expect any significant future incremental root growth which may cause footpath movement - hence, ideally I'd suggest a layer of sharp-sand (poss a geo-text membrane first) over the roots to protect them / their bark and, ideally ideally, dependent on levels and space, a slight 'ramping over' if necessary. 


Good luck and 'thanks for posting' allowing "best practice" to be discussed.




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3 hours ago, Mick Dempsey said:

Nice hand digging anyway, lot of careful effort, you treated those roots like a Roman tiled floor.


Had to be said.


I just looked on youtube for the disappearing mosaic scene from Detectorists. Couldn't find it but what a programme. Soul nourishing stuff. 

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