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I am installing a patio near a somewhat large tree and was wondering if it will stress or hurt the tree if I were to cut through some of its roots? I am wondering this myself and the home owner is also concerned.
Cutting any roots larger than 1" in diameter will hurt the tree, but it may be able to recover if it is healthy and you don't cut too many. When you cut the roots, try to do it cleanly. A pair of loppers or pruners is the best bet. A clean cut will be able to heal itself better than a torn or jagged injury. Also consider the balance of the tree when root pruning. Will you be taking so many roots the tree will become unbalanced and tip if heavy rains or strong winds come through.