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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    2

    Default Saving tree surrounded by concrete

    i just bought an appartment in manhattan and when we moved in, the tree in the back yard had already had concrete poured right up to its base. the tree is 5 stories high and CRUCIAL for privacy between the buildings. my new neighbors (we all just moved in recently) and i are desperate to save this tree before it is too late...can we just remove teh concrete with a sledgehammer?
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Saving tree surrounded by concrete

    It really depends on how thick the concrete is. If it were a job i was going to undertake, I would first be using a concrete cut-off saw. These are basically like a Chainsaw, but with a diamond blade wheel for cutting concrete and other stone material. You can rent these at almost any rental center. The first thing you would need to do aside from safety goggles, and hearing protection, is mark out at least a 3 foot square area around the trunk(to allow water to the roots). This will be the area you will remove. Use the cut off saw to cut out the square. If it is really thick you can cut the bigger pieces to be removed in half. For the corners it would be nice to have a small grinder with a diamond wheel, but if you sink the cut-off saw deep enough you can get most of it cut without ugly lines cut in your remaining concrete. Use a 4lb. sledge and a chisel to remove any rough parts. For a nice touch try adding pavers as a border around the square cut out (This is known as a soldier course). If you do this don't forget to make the 3 foot square a little bigger to accommodate the soldier course. If you aren't completely comfortable using the cut-off saw, hire a professional the are very dangerous. Get that tree some water I feel bad!

    Good luck,
    Sean
    Pittsburgh, PA

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Fairfax, VA
    Posts
    76

    Arrow Re: Saving tree surrounded by concrete

    And just something to keep in mind for later down the road, is eventually, those roots will start popping up the concrete and cracking it, as the roots grow.

    We came across a similar situation, where the concrete was poured too close to the tree base, and the roots raised up the concrete like it was nothing. You will notice this on sidewalks a lot.

    NOVA Pros

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    2

    Question Re: Saving tree surrounded by concrete

    thank you so much sean for the detailed directions! do you think it matters when we do this? meaning can we go ahead and do this now w/winter conditions or will that further traumatize this poor tree??

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    32

    Default !

    As an arborist, I would go with the sledgehammer. The cutoff saw will damage roots - no doubt. Tree roots exist in the upper 12" of soil, with many right at the surface. This tree cannot afford to lose many roots. I would remove as much of that concrete as you can, as soon as you can. Go all the way to the edge of the property, if you can.

    When was the concrete put in? You may have caught it in time. When the concrete is gone, see if you can find an arborist with an air knife or air spade. This will allow you to loosen the compacted soil under the concrete and add amendments. Mulch the area well.

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    7,152

    Default Re: !

    Quote Originally Posted by mpriley05 View Post
    As an arborist, I would go with the sledgehammer. The cutoff saw will damage roots - no doubt. Tree roots exist in the upper 12" of soil, with many right at the surface. This tree cannot afford to lose many roots. I would remove as much of that concrete as you can, as soon as you can. Go all the way to the edge of the property, if you can.
    I was thinking the same thing, however, we do not know how the concrete was poured or how deep the seam joint is. If the seam goes the full depth of the concrete, then no problem with using the sledge hammer only. If, however it's a light surface seam, then it's likely that damage to the remaining concrete will occur if it isn't cut first. The happy medium between cutting full depth and possibly damaging roots and no cutting at all would be to cut along the seams to a depth of 1" to 1-1/2" then use the sledge hammer. The deeper seam will allow the concrete to easily split along the line without cracking the concrete being left behind. Before starting the cuts, I'd first remove the wood trim around the tree to see how deep the slab is and adjust your cutting depth accordingly. The cut only needs to be 1/3 to 1/2 the depth of the concrete to prevent damage to surrounding concrete.

    I would also recommend the use of a concrete diamond blade in a worm drive electric saw over the gas powered cut off saws because of better depth control and safety. As with all things, know and understand your equipment and use proper safety gear with its use.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

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