What is Root Barrier?

Root barrier is a term commonly used in landscaping and construction to refer to a physical barrier that is installed underground to prevent the spread of roots. It is typically made of a durable material such as plastic or metal and is designed to redirect the growth of roots away from certain areas, such as building foundations, sidewalks, or underground utilities.

How Does Root Barrier Work?

Root barrier works by creating a physical barrier that roots cannot penetrate. When installed correctly, it forces the roots to grow in a different direction, away from the protected area. This is achieved by either creating a vertical barrier that extends deep into the ground or by installing a horizontal barrier that extends horizontally just below the surface.

Benefits of Using Root Barrier

There are several benefits to using root barrier in landscaping and construction projects. One of the main benefits is the prevention of damage to structures and utilities caused by invasive root systems. By redirecting the growth of roots, root barrier helps to protect building foundations, sidewalks, and underground pipes from potential damage.

Another benefit of using root barrier is the preservation of existing trees and plants. In some cases, the growth of tree roots can cause damage to nearby structures or utilities, leading to the removal of the tree. By installing root barrier, it is possible to redirect the growth of roots and preserve the tree, allowing it to continue providing shade and aesthetic value.

Root barrier also helps to maintain the integrity of landscaped areas. By preventing the spread of roots, it helps to prevent the displacement of soil and the disruption of hardscape elements such as pavers or concrete. This ensures that the landscape remains visually appealing and functional.

Installation Process

The installation process of root barrier involves several steps. First, the area where the barrier will be installed needs to be excavated. This typically involves digging a trench around the protected area. The depth and width of the trench will depend on the specific requirements of the project.

Once the trench is prepared, the root barrier material is installed. This can be done by placing pre-made panels or sheets of the barrier material into the trench or by using a continuous roll of the material. The barrier should be positioned so that it extends above the ground level to prevent roots from growing over the top.

After the barrier is installed, the trench is backfilled with soil, ensuring that the barrier is securely in place. The soil should be compacted to provide stability to the barrier and prevent any gaps or spaces where roots could potentially penetrate.

Types of Root Barrier Materials

There are several types of materials that can be used for root barrier. The most common materials include plastic and metal. Plastic root barriers are typically made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or polypropylene (PP) and are available in various thicknesses and lengths.

Metal root barriers are usually made of galvanized steel or aluminum. They are often used in areas where additional strength and durability are required, such as in commercial or industrial applications.

Considerations for Choosing Root Barrier

When choosing a root barrier, there are several factors to consider. The first is the specific needs of the project. The depth and width of the barrier will depend on the type of plants or trees in the area and the potential for root growth.

Another consideration is the material of the barrier. Plastic barriers are generally more affordable and easier to install, but they may not be as durable as metal barriers. Metal barriers, on the other hand, offer greater strength and longevity but may be more expensive.

It is also important to consider the climate and soil conditions of the project site. Some materials may be more suitable for certain environments, such as areas with high moisture or extreme temperatures.

Maintenance and Longevity

Root barriers require minimal maintenance once installed. However, it is important to regularly inspect the barrier for any signs of damage or root penetration. If any issues are identified, they should be addressed promptly to ensure the effectiveness of the barrier.

The longevity of a root barrier will depend on various factors, including the material used, the installation process, and the specific conditions of the project site. Generally, well-installed root barriers can last for many years, providing long-term protection against invasive root systems.


In conclusion, root barrier is a valuable tool in landscaping and construction projects. It helps to prevent damage to structures and utilities caused by invasive root systems, preserves existing trees and plants, and maintains the integrity of landscaped areas. By understanding the installation process, types of materials available, and considerations for choosing root barrier, professionals can effectively utilize this technique to create sustainable and functional outdoor spaces.