As a homeowner, you might sometimes wish that whoever lived in your house before you had properly thought things out, all those years ago. That shrub they planted to add character to the front of the property might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but the years have gone by, and their shrub is now your large tree, with a lateral, flat root system that is causing your driveway or front path to buckle. 

While trees reach a finite size, their increasing height (and the width of their canopy) means that their root system has slowly crept outwards. When a tree with a lateral, flat root system is in the vicinity of a paved area, it's a likelihood that its root system will eventually reach the uncompacted soil beneath your concrete paving. What begins as small cracks will become warping and buckling as the unchecked growth of the root system displaces the concrete above. It's beneficial to call in a professional arborist so that the tree can be properly assessed. What action is likely?


It might be recommended that the site is excavated (which will have needed to happen anyway in order to repair your paving). Problematic roots can then be severed and removed. What happens next depends on the size of the roots.

Tackle Thin, Smaller Roots

Smaller roots can typically regenerate, and so their removal is essentially only buying you time. However, it can take years for this regeneration, and so any paving above the root system will be safe in the interim. But this approach can mean that you're deferring the problem since it will eventually return, although not in the same exact configuration as before.

Address Thick, Larger Roots

Larger roots won't regenerate, and it can be possible to remove them while preserving the tree. This isn't a given, which is why professional assistance is wise. Removal of primary roots removes the tree's anchor and depending on the height of the tree, it could easily topple in extreme weather. The removal of key roots also makes the tree more vulnerable to parasitic infestation. 

Consider Tree Removal

In short, tree removal is often the best course of action, especially if the issue will return or you'll be left with an unhealthy tree that will require intensive care. Work with tree removal services to determine the best outcome for the tree and your property. 

It's generally more prudent to remove a tree with a lateral root system that's damaging your paving. You can always consider replacing it with an appropriate tree (with a shallow root system), planted a safe distance from any paving.