I had a disaster of a huge river birch tree in front of my house when I purchased it a year ago. I had it removed about five months ago, and the roots that ran through the yard were ground out along with the stumps. The roots lying underneath the walkway were not removed at the tree removal contractor said they could not go under the walkway, which was obvious by the massive machine they used for the stump grinding and root chasing.

I had a mudjacking contractor take a look, and he told me that doing that $1,000 job would leave the walkway peaked because the root would still be underneath. I then submitted a request through Thumbtack asking if someone could lift the segment and remove the root and then put it back. I had seen Youtube videos of this being done, but it does not seem to be standard practice. The guy told me "sure" and then took a look and said the segments had to be removed and the concrete repoured for $2,500.

Is there a way to remove large roots from underneath an exposed aggregate sidewalk without turning it into a huge project? I don't know what kind of contractor would do this. Maybe concrete contractors are not the right place to go. I want it to be ground/chopped/destroyed. The complicating factor is that unlike regular stump removals that include the roots, this large root system is under a walkway. roots under exposed aggregate walkway

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    Are the roots pushing up the walkway now? Your post doesn’t mention that. Since the tree is removed, and if they aren’t pushing it up, why not just chop all visible roots away and leave it to decompose?
    – nstclair13
    Sep 6, 2018 at 15:27
  • But since it is under concrete, it could take years for any appreciable decomposition. Sep 6, 2018 at 15:32
  • Hi Zack, welcome to the site. How wide is this walkway and is there access into the dirt from both sides of it?
    – Michael Karas
    Sep 6, 2018 at 15:46
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    Of course, that just means you'll have opposite problem later, as the root decomposes and everything begins to settle. And from the photo, it does look like there's some lifting. Sep 6, 2018 at 16:47
  • you can use bath salts to dissolve it over the course of several months. You can also use burning charcoal briquettes and a small fan to burn it out, add one brick about every 20 mins or so on average. You need the fan to move the air underground. Once burned-out, fill the hole with gravel.
    – dandavis
    Sep 6, 2018 at 18:10

4 Answers 4


Saturating wood with saltpeter produces an oxidizer, allowing it to burn while buried. In ancient days gone by you would drill a hole in the stump, fill it with saltpeter from the corner drug store, then light it after a couple days. The stump and roots would all burn. In these more enlightened times you're probably violating some civil ordinance by doing it.

If safety is the only priority you can cut out a section of the walkway directly above the root with a wet saw. (Either rented or a contractor) With the pavement lifted out of the way you can dig out the root with hand tools then pack the void with an appropriate base. If you've lived a virtuous life the original section will have remained intact, otherwise you'll need to repour the small section. This will leave a visible repair, but you can definitely do it below $2,500.

FYI, if you look in the Yellow Pages you should be able to find a masonry supply yard nearby. There's an excellent chance that they'll carry the aggregate used on your walkway.


I just removed a 8 inch in diameter root from under my buddy’s side walk and releveled it. It was 3 feet wide 5 feet long and 4 inches thick. I removed the dirt from root on both sides and underneath the root on both sides. Used my chainsaw to cut root. On the side I wanted to pull it out of I left the root about foot and a half long. Also on this side I cut a foot or so gap between the existing root and the section of root to be removed so when I rap and choke the longer piece of root with a nylon strap and pull it out with at least a 3/4 ton come a long it won’t bind upon root still attached to tree. Then dug out a little underneath slab then I put a 5x5 piece wood in the bottom of hole so my hydraulic ram doesn’t sink into ground when it takes the weight of the slab of concrete e next to root then I put my 10 ton hydraulic ram connected to my portapower hand pump. Then I pumped up the slab off the cut root and used the same tree rapped another nylon strap around it hooked my 3/4 ton comealong to both and pulled the root out. Filled in the void with dirt and lowered slab back down in place. It took 2-3 hours and it looks like it never happened. I’m sure you can rent the portapower and come-a-long and nylon straps. Good luck. Mr.

  • Welcome to Home Improvement! I think you've got a good answer in here, it's hard to find. A bit of formatting (edit your answer, then look to the right - there are some formatting tips) and some spell check would be helpful. For example, I think you mean wrap, not rap. Also, a picture is worth 1000 words - a little sketch of what you did would be most instructive to go with the text description.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 24, 2023 at 14:31

I'd dig a hole near the center edge of the uplifted slab; 1X1X1 foot should do. Recess the hole under the slab, so there's room for your car or truck jack. Put a a 2"X6"X8" or so piece of wood on top of the jack, and lift away. If the slabs are separate, you should have enough mechanical advantage to lift the slab cleanly. If not, you'll need a dry masonry saw to detach the slab from the rest of the concrete. When the jack is at max extension, put chocks under the ends of your slab, reposition jack and repeat. Eventually you'll get enough clearance to get at the root. Take it out or burn it. Fill the hole, and carefully lower the slab. If the slab cracks on you, just whack it into lift-able bits with an 8 pound sledge. Repouring 4" sidewalk slab is easy. Cement and gravel are dirt cheap, and it's much cheaper to do it yourself. Don't forget to get the pebbly stuff, or whatever it is, to match the other slabs.

Not sure where you live, but it's getting pretty cold to pour concrete around here. It might be best to postpone the project til spring.


Maybe try TERMITES at each end of the wood/root? And pre-poke a long hole right next to the root under the sidewalk, so they have a better chance of getting in there. Dump the TERMITES at each end and cover with a towel to keep them in the dark, and hope some live in that hole for a while and eat the wood/root. Maybe worth a shot since not hard to do.

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    Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. This reeeally sounds like a bad idea. Interesting, but bad. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. Dec 17, 2019 at 16:28

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