Friday, June 21, 2024

How to Install and Maintain Underground Root Barriers


Underground root barriers are invaluable tools in landscaping and property maintenance, serving as a protective shield against invasive tree and shrub roots. By redirecting root growth away from structures, utility lines, and other sensitive areas, root barriers help prevent costly damage and preserve the integrity of your landscape. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of installing and maintaining underground root barriers effectively.

The Importance of Underground Root Barriers

Before delving into the installation and maintenance details, it’s crucial to understand why underground root barriers are essential:

1. Damage Prevention: Root barriers are primarily designed to prevent root intrusion, which can lead to structural damage, clogged utility lines, and upheaved hardscapes.

2. Cost Savings: Investing in root barriers can save you money by eliminating the need for expensive repairs and ongoing maintenance caused by root-related issues.

3. Safety: Ensuring that tree and shrub roots do not interfere with utility lines or create tripping hazards on walkways and driveways contributes to a safer outdoor environment.

4. Aesthetic Preservation: Root barriers help maintain the visual appeal of your landscape by preventing unsightly cracks, displacement, and uneven surfaces caused by root growth.

Installation of Underground Root Barriers

Installing underground root barriers requires careful planning and execution. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

1. Identify the Problem Area:

Begin by identifying the area where you want to install the root barrier. This could be near a building’s foundation, along utility lines, or around hardscapes like driveways and walkways.

2. Gather Supplies:

You’ll need the following supplies for the installation:

  • Root barrier material (commonly high-density polyethylene or plastic)
  • Shovel or trenching machine
  • Measuring tape
  • Utility knife
  • Tape measure
  • Backfill soil

3. Determine Barrier Depth and Height:

The depth and height of the root barrier will depend on your specific needs. For deeper roots, you may need a deeper barrier. The barrier should extend above the soil surface to prevent surface roots from infiltrating the area.

4. Excavate a Trench:

Using a shovel or trenching machine, excavate a trench along the area where you plan to install the root barrier. The trench’s depth should match the desired depth of the barrier, and the width should accommodate the root barrier material.

5. Install the Root Barrier:

Unroll or place the root barrier material into the trench, ensuring that it extends above the soil surface as per your determined height. If necessary, you can cut the barrier material to fit the trench’s length.

6. Secure the Barrier:

Secure the root barrier by backfilling the trench with soil. Tamp down the soil to eliminate air pockets and ensure that the barrier remains in place. Add soil until the trench is filled and the barrier is firmly anchored.

7. Monitor for Efficacy:

After installation, monitor the area periodically to ensure that the root barrier effectively redirects root growth. Any root growth should be directed away from the protected area.

Maintenance of Underground Root Barriers

Proper maintenance is essential to ensure the continued effectiveness of underground root barriers. Here are some maintenance tips to follow:

1. Regular Inspection:

Periodically inspect the area where the root barrier is installed to check for any signs of root intrusion or damage. Early detection can prevent more extensive issues.

2. Pruning and Trimming:

If you notice roots attempting to breach the barrier, consider pruning or trimming them. Be cautious when doing this to avoid damaging the barrier or the tree’s health.

3. Soil Management:

Maintain proper soil moisture levels around the barrier to discourage roots from seeking water in the protected area. Adequate watering and mulching can help control root growth.

4. Barrier Repair:

If the root barrier becomes damaged or compromised, it’s essential to repair it promptly. Small holes or tears can be patched using appropriate repair kits, while larger damage may require replacing the affected section.

5. Professional Assistance:

If you’re unsure about the barrier’s condition or if root intrusion has already caused damage, consult a professional arborist or landscaper for an assessment and potential repairs.


Underground root barriers are a valuable asset in maintaining the health and integrity of your landscape and property. By preventing root intrusion, they save you from costly repairs, preserve the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space, and contribute to a safer environment.

When installing underground root barriers, follow the steps carefully to ensure proper placement and effectiveness. Regular maintenance and monitoring are equally important to address any issues promptly and prolong the life of the barrier.



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