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Tree roots cracking driveway

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  • Jun 5th, 2020 4:51 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
Feb 4, 2010
3217 posts
1981 upvotes

Tree roots cracking driveway

I'm looking for suggestions on what to do with what looks like will be an ongoing problem. The previous owner had the driveway paved with asphalt approximately 6-7 years ago. Prior to that it was a gravel driveway. There are two mature trees by my driveway, one on my side and one on my neighbour's. There is still the stump of a diseased tree that I got removed 4 years ago, which still produces A LOT of mushrooms (which apparently is normal 4-6 years having the tree removed as the roots are still living) - there's nothing that can be done about the stump because it's attached to my neighbour's tree - so if I remove it, it will kill his tree.

I did bring an arborist who said the trees are healthy and pose no risk to the foundation of the house but my driveway will continue to be destroyed from the roots . This morning I woke up to find part of the driveway swelling up and the asphalt cracking, it was easy to pull apart and underneath there is a mushroom (see first 4 pics). The top part of the driveway has a number of cracks and is a rising because of the roots. Majority of the driveway is still in pretty good shape.

What should I do in terms of the driveway? Fill up the cracks? I read that sealing the driveway just seals moisture making it more susceptible to cracks. Or should I just leave it as is wait until it's pretty cracked and then remove asphalt and go back to a gravel driveway like my neighbour (see last pic)?
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Last edited by hierophant on Jun 1st, 2020 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
15 replies
Sr. Member
Nov 6, 2014
568 posts
863 upvotes
Woodbridge, ON
The driveway wasn't properly "prepared" prior to paving with asphalt because if it was you wouldn't be getting organic stuff busting through so close to the top. You can wait till it gets worse and save up money in the interim to have it done right if you have the budget and want it to look good. Or you can just wait until its bad and go back to gravel. If it's in your budget and the asphalt is truly affected by the roots, I'd have it ripped up, levelled with crushed stone, compacted, 4 inches of concrete and asphalt on top of that (similar to highways) and it should last close to a lifetime for a driveway.
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Nov 17, 2004
2573 posts
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I agree partially with fordmaple as well. For it to be that close to the top, it seems that the asphalt was installed very thin. With that said, I don't believe that just redoing the asphalt will be a permanent solution, as the roots will continue to grow and move and expand and crack your driveway since they're fairly close to the top of the soil/ground.

I would try and identify which roots it is that is going that way and causing those issues and take and axe to them to kill the roots heading in the direction of the driveway. It probably still won't be a permanent solution, but it should buy you some time.


I have a similar problem, but the tree that I have right beside my driveway is big enough to start cracking my driveway, but not so big that I need a permit to cut it down. I have a tree guy coming to cut it down and grind the stump away today.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Feb 4, 2010
3217 posts
1981 upvotes
I agree repaving won't solve the issues as per the aborist's point. However, I don't think hacking at/killing the roots of a healthy tree is a good idea just to have a aesthetically pleasing asphalt driveway. 95% of the driveway is still in good condition so I'm not prepared to rip it up at this point - I was looking for ideas if I should patch up the cracks and holes and seal the driveway in the interim or leave it be.
Sr. Member
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Feb 25, 2004
694 posts
228 upvotes
Longueuil
I have no idea if they are effective but I have read in the past about tree root barriers. Basically you dig a trench between your driveway and the tree and install a barrier (metal sheets or maybe plastic I think) so that the roots cannot go through and reach your driveway. I assume the metal must be protected from rust otherwise it won't last long.
Try not! Do or do not, there is no try...
Member
Aug 29, 2019
359 posts
122 upvotes
fordmaple wrote: The driveway wasn't properly "prepared" prior to paving with asphalt because if it was you wouldn't be getting organic stuff busting through so close to the top. You can wait till it gets worse and save up money in the interim to have it done right if you have the budget and want it to look good. Or you can just wait until its bad and go back to gravel. If it's in your budget and the asphalt is truly affected by the roots, I'd have it ripped up, levelled with crushed stone, compacted, 4 inches of concrete and asphalt on top of that (similar to highways) and it should last close to a lifetime for a driveway.
The root went above the base under the asphalt.
Member
Aug 29, 2019
359 posts
122 upvotes
hierophant wrote: There is still the stump of a diseased tree that I got removed 4 years ago, which still produces A LOT of mushrooms (which apparently is normal 4-6 years having the tree removed as the roots are still living) - there's nothing that can be done about the stump because it's attached to my neighbour's tree - so if I remove it, it will kill his tree.

I did bring an arborist who said the trees are healthy -
That sounds pretty contradictory. You have a healthy tree attached to a rotting stump? Am I missing something? Got a pic?
Member
Aug 29, 2019
359 posts
122 upvotes
JEDI Force wrote: I have no idea if they are effective but I have read in the past about tree root barriers. Basically you dig a trench between your driveway and the tree and install a barrier (metal sheets or maybe plastic I think) so that the roots cannot go through and reach your driveway. I assume the metal must be protected from rust otherwise it won't last long.
It would have been effective if they put the barrier along the driveway when the tree was still young and the roots hadn't breached the asphalt.

The trees and their roots are no longer trainable to move downward. They are already under the driveway. You would need to cut roots and that would really hurt the tree.
Member
Aug 29, 2019
359 posts
122 upvotes
hierophant wrote: I'm looking for suggestions on what to do with what looks like will be an ongoing problem. The previous owner had the driveway paved with asphalt approximately 6-7 years ago. Prior to that it was a gravel driveway. There are two mature trees by my driveway, one on my side and one on my neighbour's. There is still the stump of a diseased tree that I got removed 4 years ago, which still produces A LOT of mushrooms (which apparently is normal 4-6 years having the tree removed as the roots are still living) - there's nothing that can be done about the stump because it's attached to my neighbour's tree - so if I remove it, it will kill his tree.

I did bring an arborist who said the trees are healthy and pose no risk to the foundation of the house but my driveway will continue to be destroyed from the roots . This morning I woke up to find part of the driveway swelling up and the asphalt cracking, it was easy to pull apart and underneath there is a mushroom (see first 4 pics). The top part of the driveway has a number of cracks and is a rising because of the roots. Majority of the driveway is still in pretty good shape.

What should I do in terms of the driveway? Fill up the cracks? I read that sealing the driveway just seals moisture making it more susceptible to cracks. Or should I just leave it as is wait until it's pretty cracked and then remove asphalt and go back to a gravel driveway like my neighbour (see last pic)?
That pothole is too far gone to fix permanently with a long lasting correction. A mall crack is injectable but once you have a hole it's just going to get bigger no matter what you try to do.

I would just use the driveway until it's on it's last legs. If the trees are still there go gravel if you dont want to cut them down and dig out the roots. If the trees are removed by that time, you could consider repaving and putting in a barrier in case of future trees being replanted in the same spot.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Feb 4, 2010
3217 posts
1981 upvotes
Been doing some more research thought I'd share in case some else has the same problem/question down the road. I'm not sure how thick asphalt is supposed to be but mushrooms are known to push through 3 inches of asphalt! They are tough buggers! The mushrooms are part of the decomposing process of dying tree roots (e.g. you had tree removed) - supposedly it can take 4-5 years - I'm going on year 4 so definitely won't be doing anything with the driveway for the next 3 years or so unless I decide to sell before then.
Member
Aug 29, 2019
359 posts
122 upvotes
hierophant wrote: Been doing some more research thought I'd share in case some else has the same problem/question down the road. I'm not sure how thick asphalt is supposed to be but mushrooms are known to push through 3 inches of asphalt! They are tough buggers! The mushrooms are part of the decomposing process of dying tree roots (e.g. you had tree removed) - supposedly it can take 4-5 years - I'm going on year 4 so definitely won't be doing anything with the driveway for the next 3 years or so unless I decide to sell before then.
I'm still curious how the arborist said the tree attached to a decomposing stump is in good health. What type of tree is it? Can we see a picture of how the tree and stump are fused together? I'm just genuinely curious to see it.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Feb 4, 2010
3217 posts
1981 upvotes
Katedontbreak wrote: I'm still curious how the arborist said the tree attached to a decomposing stump is in good health. What type of tree is it? Can we see a picture of how the tree and stump are fused together? I'm just genuinely curious to see it.
In all honesty, I don't want to get unsolicited opinions about the trees in question on this forum because I trust the 5 tree cutting companies I brought in for a quote, one of which has a degree in Arboriculture that I ended up hiring - plus it's done. However, I appreciate the curiosity, I'm the same way ;) .

The diseased tree that was removed 4 years ago (literally rotten to the core) was a Manitoba Maple (if anyone has one, get rid of it now - it will bring you more grief than joy), the other tree which is on my neighbour's property is a spruce that is healthy. Basically the spruce was there before - the manitoba maple grows like a weed and unfortunatley the many previous owners before did not take care and let it grow next to the spruce and eventually the trunks grew side by side with no space between them, hence they're attached in a sense, but the spruce isn't dependent on it (which I think is your question?) however, any attempt to remove the stump of maple will harm it given the situation. Instead he left stump, which constantly produces mushrooms as the core is completely rotten. I put a large planter on it to hide it- it's a disgusting looking stump. Had I not noticed this and gotten it removed, it would have eventually come crashing on my roof and car, in fact I had to get 5 diseased or dying trees removed within 2 months of moving in ...previous owners lucked out...this is ONE of the reasons why I question the purpose of having a real estate agent or inspection if they can't help with things like this. I lucked out with finding this arborist - very knowledgeable, great work and fair price...I've recommended him to several people, including the previous owners for a tree in their new home LOL.

If you're still interested in seeing a pic, I can take one tomorrow and PM you.
Member
Aug 29, 2019
359 posts
122 upvotes
hierophant wrote: In all honesty, I don't want to get unsolicited opinions about the trees in question on this forum because I trust the 5 tree cutting companies I brought in for a quote, one of which has a degree in Arboriculture that I ended up hiring - plus it's done. However, I appreciate the curiosity, I'm the same way ;) .

The diseased tree that was removed 4 years ago (literally rotten to the core) was a Manitoba Maple (if anyone has one, get rid of it now - it will bring you more grief than joy), the other tree which is on my neighbour's property is a spruce that is healthy. Basically the spruce was there before - the manitoba maple grows like a weed and unfortunatley the many previous owners before did not take care and let it grow next to the spruce and eventually the trunks grew side by side with no space between them, hence they're attached in a sense, but the spruce isn't dependent on it (which I think is your question?) however, any attempt to remove the stump of maple will harm it given the situation. Instead he left stump, which constantly produces mushrooms as the core is completely rotten. I put a large planter on it to hide it- it's a disgusting looking stump. Had I not noticed this and gotten it removed, it would have eventually come crashing on my roof and car, in fact I had to get 5 diseased or dying trees removed within 2 months of moving in ...previous owners lucked out...this is ONE of the reasons why I question the purpose of having a real estate agent or inspection if they can't help with things like this. I lucked out with finding this arborist - very knowledgeable, great work and fair price...I've recommended him to several people, including the previous owners for a tree in their new home LOL.

If you're still interested in seeing a pic, I can take one tomorrow and PM you.
You've explained perfectly what I was curious about. I assumed you meant the stump and the neighbour's tree shared a root system.
Jr. Member
Oct 25, 2014
156 posts
43 upvotes
Toronto, ON
fordmaple wrote: The driveway wasn't properly "prepared" prior to paving with asphalt because if it was you wouldn't be getting organic stuff busting through so close to the top. You can wait till it gets worse and save up money in the interim to have it done right if you have the budget and want it to look good. Or you can just wait until its bad and go back to gravel. If it's in your budget and the asphalt is truly affected by the roots, I'd have it ripped up, levelled with crushed stone, compacted, 4 inches of concrete and asphalt on top of that (similar to highways) and it should last close to a lifetime for a driveway.
If you are putting 4" concrete anyway..why not just have a concrete driveway..??
Why put asphalt on top that would wear much quicker than concrete
Sr. Member
Nov 6, 2014
568 posts
863 upvotes
Woodbridge, ON
stanleyt wrote: If you are putting 4" concrete anyway..why not just have a concrete driveway..??
Why put asphalt on top that would wear much quicker than concrete
This is done to prevent asphalt from buckling as the concrete underneath is ridgid. Concrete will crack but it won't show through the ashpalt. Having concrete on top will chip and crack. Repaving asphalt if you need to is cheaper that redoing concrete. Asphalt over concrete is more expensive but does last longer as its a process used on highways. It's not done in residential as it's cost prohibitive at least in the short term.
Last edited by fordmaple on Jun 5th, 2020 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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