Installing Root Barrier Products Quickly and Easily with Sidewalk Shield

Sidewalk Shield is a market-changing, revolutionary product designed to be installed easily by pros and amateurs alike, for the containment and managed growth of planted tree root systems. If installed correctly, Sidewalk Shield is a tree root barrier that helps to prevent damage to the surrounding hardscape and landscape from tree roots that grow unchecked, often uplifting sidewalks and uprooting gardens.

Before we talk about installing Sidewalk Shield quickly and easily, let’s go a little more in-depth about the basics.

What are the Advantages of Installing a Root Barrier for Trees When Planning a Landscape or Hardscape?

If you plant trees and/or bushes with large root systems near or against sidewalks and other landscaping, those unruly root systems can be a headache and even a nightmare. They can grow in such a random and wild manner that they push up — and even uproot — sidewalks and lighting, as well as vegetation, other bushes and plants, and flowers. All of these are things you obviously don’t want to happen because if one or more of them do, it’s a huge waste of time, energy, and money.

Therefore, a barrier for tree roots is necessary to control tree roots and prevent such problems and issues as those described above.

What Exactly Is a Root Barrier? How Does It Work on Tree Roots?

There are a few different types of root barriers

Root traps and screens are fairly common but really limited in effectiveness compared to other options.

Usually, root traps and screens are made of a screen-type mesh metal material or a woven fabric, and will have holes that allow the root tips to poke through but not grow through OR be strangled.

Chemical root barriers are similar to root traps and screens somewhat, in that they are textile-based but also covered in a chemical that inhibits root growth. The chemical generally keeps the root tip from growing, thereby containing the spread of the entire root system.  Unfortunately, these chemical root barriers usually become less effective over time, dependent on soil temperature and moisture.

The most common root barriers, however, are root deflectors.

One of the most widely used types of root deflectors is large and heavy-duty (but often cumbersome) plastic root barrier panels.

These are installed commonly in a linear manner. You can also “surround” the root system in a sort-of-square shape. Another alternative is “pruning” the root by blocking it off at a certain point. The cons to this type of root barrier product is that the plastic is not pliable and cannot create any sort of rounded or circular shape. Thus, you are always limited to some sort of straight-line barrier pattern.

Another root deflector choice, relatively new to the game, is the root barrier roll.

Root barrier rolls are products that do exactly what it sounds like—they roll, or unroll, to create a fully-circular barrier around tree root systems under the ground. Sometimes this type of product might be made of a textile, but most commonly it’s composed of pliable metal or plastic.

How Do You Install Tree Root Barriers? Is it Hard to Install Root Barrier Products?

To keep the trees and bushes their healthiest, it’s important to consider that whatever root barrier option you choose, you need to be sure it’s a deep root barrier. You don’t want to harm the tree or its natural growth so the root should not be contained or directed too shallowly.  Of course, it’s always best to install the tree barrier before installation of the hardscape and landscape for best results.

Sidewalk Shield is one type of tree root barrier roll that is taking the market by storm. It’s an affordable root barrier product that works quite effectively and cost-efficiently for tree root management.

Sidewalk Shield is created from recycled HDPE plastic that lasts over 100 years underground. It is also the heartiest and most heavy-duty choice, as it has 100 MIL (1/10th inch) thickness, offering 200 pounds of puncture strength.  Additionally, it comes in a wide range of sizes and lengths ready to accommodate the needs for your specific project.

Tree root control IS POSSIBLE with Sidewalk Shield!

How does Sidewalk Shield help to control tree roots? As mentioned above, it’s critical to ensure that you control tree root growth without hindering it to such an extent that it harms the tree or especially, causes the tree to die.

As Sidewalk Shield likes to say, for maximum ease and effectiveness of using the product, “Plan before you plant.”

What does this mean? Sidewalk Shield comes in a variety of depths/heights that are installed into the ground to push tree (or bush/shrub) root growth downward. By doing this, it helps to control the growth of the root system(s) and thus, prevent those roots from uprooting your hardscape or landscape design. If this is done right, planning for — and installing — Sidewalk Shield can help you to avoid costly replacement of sidewalks, roads, driveways, septic systems, etc.

Here is the official Sidewalk Shield description:

Using Sidewalk Shield provides decisive direction for root growth. This allows the tree greater long-term health and allows for longevity of sidewalk and roads in adjacent areas. In addition, uplifted sidewalk and driveways can cause serious tripping hazards that can become liability issues. Installation of Sidewalk Shield directs the tree roots in a downward fashion to protect sidewalks, roads, trees, and ultimately people. Installation: Locate and confirm the locations of all underground utility lines and structures prior to starting any excavation area.

Sidewalk Shield should only be used on new or young plantings. The shield can be utilized on young plantings if it can be installed without disrupting existing root growth. There are two basic type of tree pits. Surround pits are smaller tree pits used to enclose a single tree. Linear or continuous pits are longer pits design to contain multiple trees and a larger green space. Tree pits should be as large as possible to allow for ample growing space for tree roots and continuous tree pits is advantageous whenever possible.

But there’s even more good news. There are only 2 simple steps to root barrier installation with Sidewalk Shield

While all the above information we’ve provided about Sidewalk Shield might already sound great if you’re currently planning for — or considering how to — protect your hardscape or landscape designs from deep root systems, it gets better! Installing Sidewalk Shield couldn’t be much easier so long as you adequately plan for its use upfront and then you follow the simple, provided installation steps.

As mentioned above, it’s important to note — and follow — the idea that Sidewalk Shield is best used on new or young plantings. While using it with new plantings is obviously ideal, it can be used on young plantings if Sidewalk Shield can be installed without harm to the existing root system. In some instances, you can also use it on older trees or deep root bushes if it’s possible to install the barrier into the ground and around the root growth, without having to cut into major root arteries.

Now, here are those two Sidewalk Shield installation steps:
  1. You will create your tree pit around the tree’s root radius OR you can wall off a larger root growth span if you want or need to contain a larger, more diverse, green area. Surround pits are those that surround or enclose a single tree. Linear or continuous pits are the latter—designed to contain or retain multiple trees or other deep root growth greenery in a communal landscape space.  In either case, you need to allow ample growth berth for the root systems.  Not surprisingly then, linear containment with Sidewalk Shield is preferred whenever and wherever possible.
  • Next, no matter which pit style you’ve elected to use, confirm subgrade is at the proper depth to allow the top of the Sidewalk Shield root barrier roll edge to come to the top of the curb, but not exceed curb or sidewalk height. For your pit area — surround or linear — line the outside of the desired planting area for the tree with Sidewalk Shield. Angle the shield at a 10-degree position, where the top of the barrier is closer to the tree and the bottom is further away. Replace soil in succeeding 6” layers compacting as you proceed.

Some important notes and considerations for installing Sidewalk Shield for the greatest success:

  1. You must allow enough room for adequate root growth. Yes, we’ve said this before but it bears repeating because it’s that important to the efficacy of — and your satisfaction with — Sidewalk Shield. Integral to this is understanding what constitutes “room for adequate root growth.” The drip line of a tree is the outermost radius where water drips off the tree’s limbs and leaves. Sidewalk Shield should be installed no less than 1/2 the radius of the mature drip line.  But remember, with Sidewalk Shield all planting areas to be “guarded” don’t have to be circular. Sidewalk Shield can also accommodate linear landscape areas and pits, even irregular shapes that other root barrier products just can’t handle.  Ultimately, you just need to remember that the managed root growth area should be at least half of the drip line of the entire protected area.
  2. You should be sure to install Sidewalk Shield at the proper angle. Remember… your goal is to direct the root growth downward far enough so that it doesn’t grow upward — even eventually —- and disrupt sidewalks, walkways, benches, lighting, septic, drainage, other landscape elements, and more. The best way to ensure that downward growth is established and accomplished, is to put it into the ground at a 10 degree downward slope.  The top (closest to the surface) will be closer to the tree than the bottom of the bottom. Summarily, you’re creating a funnel with Sidewalk Shield, where the bottom is wider than the top.

It should be clear and evident at this point why deep root barriers are necessary when you are planning a hardscape and landscaped area you want to protect and preserve for many years to come.

You do have a few different choices or root barrier options that can be effective. However, most of those choices have limitations. Sidewalk Shield is a comprehensive, easy-to-use, effective, and affordable tree root barrier product that is available to pros and DIYers alike. 

Installation of Sidewalk Shield tree barrier roll is a breeze and if installed correctly, it should last for many years to come and do its job more-than-well.

If you’d like to learn more about Sidewalk Shield, please do not hesitate to reach out to us and we’d love to provide additional information or a custom quote.

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