Vertical Root Barriers – guide to site preparation and installation

vertical root barrier application
Vertical root barrier application as supplied by GreenBlue Urban

The application of vertical root barriers is varied but their main designed is to keep tree roots away from targets such as structures, roads, watercourses, drainage, irrigation systems etc. In their natural environment trees are free to use all of the available rooting areas that they require, growing around other roots or rocks and following natural watercourses. However, within the urban environment, tree roots are often physically constrained by man-made objects such as drains, foundations, roads etc. Because of the way that tree roots grow they will attempt to grow into, causing breakage, or around, causing constriction, objects that are in their path and over time this can cause damage.

It is important to remember that many urban trees do not cause any physical damage to the areas surrounding them meaning that intervention is only required in certain circumstances where damage has been investigated and proven or as a prior condition to new construction.

Modern town and urban planning are finally taking into account the need to manage tree roots within this setting and many people are looking to solutions from companies such as GreenBlue Urban and Deep Root Urban Solutions for managing new planting stock. However, the main issue that we focus on as a company is older urban trees where development has restricted their natural rooting area and they are now causing structural damage.

Vertical root barriers for mature trees

Where root barrier installation is required to mature trees it is important to understand the need to protect the tree as well as the target. We undertake all of the excavations using our air spade that selectively loosens and excavates soil surrounding roots, without causing damage to the roots. the roots that are located within the trench are then carefully pruned using a handsaw creating cuts that are 90⁰ to the root direction, this ensures the root has the greatest chance of occluding (Healing) the wound. Many people will undertake the initial excavations using machinery such as excavators, however this risks causing irrecoverable to the root system through ripping and destroying key root fibres, compromising both tree health and stability.

Once the roots have been uncovered and pruned any existing excavations past the pruning point can be undertaken mechanically, without causing risk of damage to the tree. Root barriers can then be selected and installed depending on the specification and the site reinstated.

Root damage investigation

If you are in the initial stages of investigating root damage or you suspect tree roots are causing damage then we can also now undertake tree radar surveys of suspected root conflict using specialist ground penetrating radar to scan and plot tree root locations in relation to structures, foundations, utilities etc. without requiring excavation or damage to the site, tree roots or structures.

For any questions you have about tree roots, vertical root barriers, excavating around tree roots or any of the other services we offer please contact us.

You cannot copy content of this page

Scroll to Top