How to Make Sure Your Hedging Doesn’t Interfere with Your Patio

Did you know, half of all gardens in the UK contain paving slabs or a patio/decking area? So whichever way round you are doing it – whether you already have hedging and are thinking of installing a patio, or you are looking at planting a new hedgerow around an existing patio – it’s important to follow certain procedures to make sure that the two don’t interfere with each other. The last thing you want is for any roots to grow underneath your patio and begin popping the slabs up. This is a difficult job to fix after the fact, so there are certain precautions you should take to ensure this doesn’t happen.

1. If you are installing a patio near your hedge – follow correct procedure for laying patio slabs

Whether it’s a shed base or a full blown patio you are constructing, the best way to ensure that nothing interferes with your laid slabs – and ensuring they survive any invasive root systems – is to construct a solid foundation in accordance with the best practice procedures you can find online.

In short, your patio should have 3 distinct layers to provide the best structure.

  1. A sub-base: 100-150mm of compacted MOT type 1 provides a strong, solid foundation.
  2. An adhesive mortar base: 50-60mm of mortar to give your slabs something to stick to. This should be a ‘full-wet bed’ and not a ‘dot and dab’ method.
  3. Slab layer: whatever your choice of patio slabs, they should be at least 22mm thick where possible and firmly bedded down onto your adhesive base.

A solid foundation will provide incredible protection against invasive plants or roots and is always your first line of defence – so try to make sure you get this right.

Alternatively, you can opt to install a raised patio. Keeping the slabs raised off the ground, whether that’s by using a retaining wall, or a manufactured raised bed system such as surface360, you will guarantee the roots of your hedge will never interfere with your new patio.

2. If you already have a patio but want to add a hedge – keep your distance!

Distance from your hedge is the main issue here. The closer you build a patio to a hedge or tree, the more likely it is that the roots are going to interfere with your slabs. The best thing you can do is just to give your patio plenty of distance between it and your hedge – if you leave 4 feet between your hedge and your patio, then you will have nothing to worry about.  At this distance, the roots are very unlikely to develop in a way that’s going to interfere with your paving.

However, what if you want to install trees or hedging around your patio? For a lot of people, this is exactly what they had in mind, so simply keeping your hedge away from your patio isn’t an option. What you are likely to get away with is completely dependent on the foundations of your patio: the better the foundation, the closer you can place your hedges to your patio without worrying.

If you’ve laid it yourself, you should know whether you followed the best-practice procedures. If you are confident you have, then you can place your patio a little closer to the hedges, give yourself 1.5 feet (18 inches) just to be on the safe side, but a good base will stand up to any further root growth from this distance.

If you’ve laid it yourself but feel like you haven’t followed these best practices, then you’re going to need to leave a bit more distance. 4 feet is the safest distance to plant and we wouldn’t recommend anything close if you aren’t confident in the foundations.

3. What if the patio was installed by a previous owner?

If the patio has been installed by a previous owner, it’s very tricky to know exactly how to treat it. The only way you can check is by ripping up a slab to check which type of mortar base has been used: a full-wet bed or a dot and dab method.

If a full bed is present, you can probably assume best practice has been used and you can plant your hedges a little closer. You still cannot be certain as you weren’t there when it was installed, so it might be wise to err on the side of caution if you want to be safe and plant at least 2-3 feet away from the patio.

But if a dot and dab method has been used, then you can safely assume the foundation isn’t going to be up to the job, in which case keep the recommended 4 feet away.

In conclusion: If in doubt, keep 4 feet away

The best thing you can do to ensure the integrity of your patio for years to come is to construct a solid foundation where the roots will have great trouble interfering, regardless of how close your hedges are to your paving slabs.

But if the installation has already happened, the next best thing to do if you don’t feel like your patio foundations are reliable, is to simply keep your distance. If your hedges and patio are a minimum of 4 feet apart, you are unlikely to encounter any problems down the line.

In summary, if in doubt keep your distances correct. If your patio falls victim to pesky roots, it’s an expensive mistake to correct. A slight change to your patio or hedge placement is worth it to ensure the two do not interfere with each other – believe us!

Contributed by Kelsey at Primethorpe Paving

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