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Help on flagstone patio.....on top of roots

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by ViceNut, Apr 13, 2009.

  1. ViceNut

    ViceNut LawnSite Member
    Messages: 134

    Went to look at a job saturday and Im not real sure what to do from here. We havent done a lot of rock work, but a flagstone patio is something we can do, but maybe not in this situation. The homeowner wants a flagstone patio in the back yard pretty much wrapping around a 75-100 year old tree, with roots coming up out of the ground everywhere. To the point where the roots go beyond his property fence. What is the best option here? There is nowhere else to put the patio, due to the small back yard, but should I try raising up the level with heavily compacted topsoil, then go off of that? Or will that eventually still be pushed up by the roots? I have some pictures I will try to get uploaded tomorrow, but just looking for the best way to go about this. Would rather not turn it down because the budget is good for it, but on the same hand dont want to do it and question the stability/quality of it. TIA

  2. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    You just need to explain to the customer it a bad situation all around to try and do a patio that close to a tree. When ever I explain to someone these types of issues, I try to reassure them that I want them to get the best results for the money spent, and they usually get it.

    1.) Leaf Staining
    2.) Bird Cr*p
    2.) Movement from roots
    3.) Any excavating around the tree could potentially kill the tree.

    You need to talk here into putting it somewhere out closer to the dripline where it would be in a more sustainable area.

    Then I would incorporate a shade garden with a wondering flagstone path between the patio and tree. Something less permanent that can be moved and repositioned easily over time.

    Shoot some pics and post them.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2009
  3. EVM

    EVM LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 384

    Tell them to get rid of the tree, it is destroying the yard. The tree probably drops debris all year round too. Out with the old, in with the new. I don't like the job by the sound of it already. You could probably break your ankle walking around all those exposed tree roots, lol. Just tell the customer that those tree roots are going to damage their foundation one day. They will have the tree cut down by tomorrow, such a beautiful tree......
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    One job like that was done actually by the HO himself. He placed the stone along and in between the roots. The roots became part of the new level surface. After 4 years, it still looks good...
  5. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    That's a pretty good idea too.

    I think it all comes down to what the customer wants for a patio too. If she's looking for a simple area to sit in occasionally then the flag would work.

    But, if she's wanting a fully constructed, level flag patio for entertaining and such, then it's going to be hard to build something that will hold it's shape for a long period of time.
  6. ViceNut

    ViceNut LawnSite Member
    Messages: 134

    thanks guys, but the guy wants a flagstone patio to go and hang out around fairly frequently. Most of all, he wants a firepit. He told me if the patio had to be smaller, he wanted a firepit nonetheless haha. There really is no other place where the patio could go in the back yard because of its size, and cutting down the tree isn't an option. Its downtown, and the way the people are down there, they will probably kick me and him out of the state for even thinking of cutting down a tree like that. Plus, that would kill his budget and then he would have no tree, AND no patio. Im going to explain to him the extremity of the tree and the situation/problem it presents, and tell him the best I can do is raise the patio up with topsoil, then do 4" base and 2" sand, then lay the flag on top, and hope for the best. It should last pretty good for several years, but after that I cant promise him anything. We shall see........
  7. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Several years.....probably not. I'd say it will shift in 3. A fire pit will probably scorch the tree above the pit also.

    6 inches of material over existing roots is not a good thing. Do you want to be ran out of the state for taking down a tree or ran out of state for killing a tree.

    I'd give you maybe a 25% success rate on this project. Some may say 15%. There are way to many variables that are out of your control.

    Your funeral, just decide how you want people to mourn you.
  8. EVM

    EVM LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 384

    I am just going to be sarcastic here.......

    A tree like that? The thing has run its course, it is over for that tree, at least that is what I do here in Jersey.

    Just replace it with a new one. Seriously, the tree is a hazard already, just waiting to fall during the next storm a possibly injure someone.
  9. wurkn with amish

    wurkn with amish LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 662

    Just because a tree is 75-100yrs old doesn't mean its ran its course.
    skip the topsoil process, that will smother the roots. Keep the patio at least 15-20ft from the trunk and make that a flowerbed like WG said. by keeping the patio out that far you (should ) be missing the biggest roots. If you hit roots in excavation, cut them clean like when pruning so they heal better. I would raise the patio up with course limestone, no fines. Maybe #8's or #57's. then geofabric on that and then sand at 1 inch. The best bet would be just use a thicker flag and lay straight on the soil( 3-4in flag), and go inbetween the roots like someone said.
  10. CALandscapes

    CALandscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 946

    Be sure to use a permeable base; if not, you will risk cutting off the water supply to the tree around it's drip line, in turn killing it.

    Like others said; be CAREFUL. Sometimes making money now isn't worth the headache that it can bring later :nono:

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