The Unseen Benefits of Root Barriers

Root barriers might not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering the tasks of a groundskeeper, yet they can be a very effective tool in your arsenal. By properly installing these understated, clever devices a more strategic approach to managing landscapes can be taken. Their use is critical in controlling root growth, which can otherwise lead to costly damage to infrastructure, pathways, and even building foundations. By integrating barriers into maintenance plans groundskeepers can ensure that landscapes are not only aesthetically pleasing but also remain structurally sound.


The Versatility of Root Barriers

Originally designed for protection, root barriers have evolved to offer versatile solutions for various landscaping challenges. They are useful tool in maintaining valuable trees that exist in challenging locations, and in managing invasive species with specialist products like Japanese knotweed root barrier. They frequently prove their worth in communal spaces, with the use of a barrier to safeguard edges and pathways against plants that, while initially chosen for their visual appeal, can unexpectedly turn into nuisances. The spreading habits of running bamboo, which can lie latent for extended periods before aggressively producing rhizomes, can be managed effectively by installing a bamboo root barrier.


Tree Root Management Strategies

Effective tree root management with barriers can be categorized into three key activities: guiding new tree plantings, protecting existing structures and utilities, and mitigating subsidence issues. The success of these applications relies on selecting the correct root barrier depth, careful installation and informed decisions. This will often necessitate professional advice at the start of the process to select the most suitable root barrier for the project.


Root Barrier Types and Applications

There are now types of root barrier specifically designed with very certain applications in mind. Some are simply designed to be tough, with a high puncture resistance, whilst others apply a more scientific approach.


  1. Planting and Growth Direction: For new plantings, barriers guide roots downwards, away from pathways and structures. Ribbed root barriers, in particular, are adept at steering root growth and preventing spiralling.
  2. Infrastructure Protection: Addressing established trees near built surfaces requires careful planning. The depth and extent of the barrier, along with the species and soil type, are considered to ensure effective redirection of roots.
  3. Subsidence Prevention: Permeable barriers are often favoured to address subsidence, with some featuring innovative designs that repel roots using the ionic charge of copper while allowing water to pass through.


Selecting and Installing the Right Root Barrier

When choosing best root barrier for the job, it’s important to weigh up the features of the different materials and designs.  There are composite barriers with copper layers, vertical ribbed barriers, and various geotextiles to choose from. Installation requires some competency, and for larger or more complex projects, choosing a professional root barrier installation company is recommended. Techniques like heat welding or using specialise root barrier adhesive or root barrier tape are essential for creating secure, lasting barriers.


A Tool for Sustainable Landscaping

Ultimately, root barriers are more than just a defence mechanism. They empower landscapers, groundskeepers and property owners to create sustainable, lasting landscapes that harmonise with their surroundings. Whether it’s for new planting schemes or to resolve existing structural challenges, whether this relates to something as simple as a pathway or more significant, like a building structure. The right root barrier can make all the difference.


By Jon Barton, MD of root membrane specialists, Root Barrier Store.