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My brick patio is very level. Unfortunately, a nearby tree has sent a root that is now causing a brick to pop up. Before the issue spreads I'd like to pry the brick up and remove the offending root. What are my options to get the brick in and out without damaging it or surrounding bricks?

Pictures of popped up brick

side view of popped up brick
angled view of popped up brick
top view of popped up brick

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1 Answer

up vote 8 down vote accepted

This is a far easier job than you may think.

First, pry out the brick. An old screwdriver will help. Stick it in one end to pry up, then the other end. Before long you will work it out. Once it is high enough, you can grab it with your hand, pulling straight up. You will want to remove a couple of bricks in that area, since there is a root to deal with. Of course, once the first brick is out, its neighbors will come out easily.

Once removed, deal with the root. Cut/shave it back with an old hatchet perhaps. (Yes, it will dull the blade, digging in the dirt. I did say to use an old hatchet.) And, don't worry, the parent tree will survive this bit of surgery.

Now, pack the area with stone dust. You can buy this by the bagful from your local home center for only a few dollars. (In a pinch, sand is ok, but it does not pack as well.) Bring this back to a perfect level. As you put a bit of the dust in, I'd tamp it down using the end of one of the bricks you just removed. You want this underlayment fully packed in, with no voids. Later settling is something you don't want. So I might lay down a half inch of dust, then tamp it in, then another layer of dust. Finally, smooth it out using a small trowel if you have one, or just the edge of one of those bricks. Get the level of the underlayment just right, so that when you replace the brick it will be perfect.

Now lay down the bricks in place again. A rubber mallet is good here as a tool of "persuasion", in case any are too high. Tap on all of the bricks to make sure they are settled in. If a brick is too low, pull it out, and add some more stone dust. You want the final surface to be as smooth as a babies bottom. Trip points are to be avoided here.

When the bricks are back in place, lay down some more of the stone dust on top, and sweep back and forth with a push broom. Work the dust into the cracks between the bricks. This locks them in place. It may require another pass with the push broom and more stone dust in a few days to fill in the cracks, or after the first good rain.

In all, expect this to be an easy job though, taking perhaps 30 minutes to do the complete repair.

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Great answer, can this approach be applied to a partially lifted slab of concrete? I have the same problem with one of the slabs of concrete in my walkway, this sounds simple enough to do. –  BigHomie Aug 15 '13 at 10:11
    
The limit of course is how much and how easily can you lift it? Remember, there will often be a test fit or so to get the amount of underlayment right. If you are talking about a 1 foot square block, this is no problem. But if it is a 3x4 foot slab, 4 inches thick, don't expect to move it without dynamite, or at least some serious hydraulics. Anyway, if it was originally poured in place, expect the bottom to be irregular, so it will be difficult to lay in that stone dust to get it flat. And large voids will lead to later cracks. Large slabs are perhaps best broken up, removed, then repoured. –  user558 Aug 15 '13 at 13:32
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