Sitting under a shading tree is the ultimate feeling: it provides natural cooling, protection from the sun, and its fresh leaves can help clean the air.
But what if you don’t have a tree growing conveniently in your yard? Maybe you’re thinking of building a patio around an existing tree.
In many cases it may be possible but there are some risks to building around any tree that should be considered before going ahead with this project. Such things as root damage, disruption and the stress of moving the tree from its original location need to be taken into consideration.
If you want to start building a patio around a tree, your first step will be deciding whether or not it is possible at all.
I know that this may seem like an impossible task as you will need to find out if there is a suitable space around the tree where you can build your patio. And if not, this will also mean finding out what it will take to relocate the tree and keep it alive.
The information in this blog post will help you understand these things and provide a little more insight into the pros and cons of building a patio around a tree.
Is concrete bad for trees?
Locations that have been constructed with concrete use more water than areas where trees are prevalent.
It’s a cheap, durable material that can be used for everything from pavement to skyscrapers, but does it come at the expense of our grand old trees?
Concrete is a simple mixture of limestone, sand, and aggregate. Asphalt and some types of mortar also contain cement.
Its basic construction is that of a classic physical system – particles (including stones, gravel, and crushed rock) are introduced as one of the ingredients and then they might be ground up or carved into shapes that are then pressed together to form strong joints.
Once the concrete is set, it is overgrown by grasses and other plants, or simply left alone by things like cars parked on it, trash collecting in it, etc.
To test the idea that concrete is bad for trees, researchers from China supported by China Postdoctoral Science Foundation set up a controlled study.
Then they monitored the growth of buds and leaves, weight and dry content.
From the study, they concluded that cement dust induces abiotic stress factors that reduce the tree’s growth in general, but also these stress factors produce a negative impact on the buds and leaves, causing their weight loss, changes in dry weight (water content), and decreases in height (leaf development / leaf emergence).
The results suggested that cement dust is an element of the plant’s environment. It can even make trees weak and inadequate, thereby affecting their development rate and growth.
Can you build a patio around a tree?
Often people who want to add a patio around their tree want to know if they can do it.
The answer is yes – but with a few considerations in mind.
First, it’s important to find trees with no major roots that are positioned in an area that can support the weight of your patio and not put too much stress on the surrounding soil.
You need to make sure that the tree will not be in danger when you put in your patio. Remember that the root system of a tree is different from that of a shrub, so you may have to dig deeper if you are planning to build a deep patio around the tree.
The amount of weight that your patio will have to bear is important because it will have an effect on the type of material you use for your patio.
Also, your patio will only hold the weight of the concrete or stone you are using and the decking, so if you use more than that to put in a patio, you may find some problems, like spalling or delamination.
Finally, it is important to plan ahead to avoid accidentally damaging your tree by using power tools or construction equipment.
Build as far away from the tree trunk as possible, and try to keep the roots of your tree as intact as possible, even when digging.
This will help you avoid having to do any extensive pruning work on your tree after you put in your patio.
Just remember that it may be a good idea to always consult with a professional arborist before attempting any project like this.
Shah, K., An, N., Ma, W., Ara, G., Ali, K., Kamanova, S., … & Xing, L. (2020). Chronic cement dust load induce novel damages in foliage and buds of Malus domestica. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-12.