Root guards protect sidewalks
BY MICHAEL J. RUDOLF
Wyoming County Press Examiner
TUNKHKANNOCK - A new and relatively simple device is being used by the Tunkhannock Tree Association to make sure new plantings don't damage sidewalks.
Known as a tree guard, the product is a reinforced sheet of vinyl about two by three feet that is inserted into the ground when the trees are planted.
"It will deflect the roots away from the sidewalk," explained association member Wendy Sweppenheiser.
The association plants new trees around Tunkhannock Borough every few months. Usually they are to replace trees that have died, or to put in a new variety of tree that will not interfere with power lines or encroach on roadways.
Most of these trees are planted in tree lawns between sidewalks and streets. In years past, however, roots have occasionally grown under the sidewalks, causing them to buckle.
Last week, the tree association put in about 20 trees along borough streets. Root guards were installed along most of them, except where the tree lawn had such a slope that the roots would not be a problem.
The concept behind the barrier is simple, Sweppenheiser explained. When the hole is dug for the planting, it is made a little wider than usual and the guard is inserted in the ground vertically, perpendicular to the sidewalk. As the tree grows, the roots will extend sideways along the tree lawn, and outward under the street, but not under the sidewalk.
"We've been wanting to use something like this for years," Sweppenheiser said.
Because the association wasn't able to obtain enough guards for every tree it planted this time around, Sweppenheiser said they were installed mainly in locations where new sidewalks were recently constructed, or are planned to be built.
The 20 trees planted last week consisted of maples, crabapples, oaks and cherries, Sweppenheiser said. The work was done my tree association members with help from the Envirothon Club at Tunkhannock Area High School.
In the future, root guards will be used on all new plantings, Sweppenheiser said.