Category: Blog

Tree Pit Talk

Tree Pits 

There is a lot of opinion over the best spec for a porous tree pit paving specification. We have been installing tree pits for nearly 20 years and worked with a lot of engineers, architects, landscapers, and arborists.

There is no single specification or product mix that solves all scenarios, so we try to work on a job by job basis. Here is a summary of some of the most common considerations:

 

New urban tree installation

Typically found on pathways, on roadsides, in cities, and shopping areas. Because councils recognise the environmental and social benefits of trees in these spaces, they are found on nearly every city shopping street.

The main issue associated with these trees is that the soil around the tree and structural base mix on top of that is new it has had no time to settle. Compacting is often difficult because of area restriction (these pits are typically about 1.2m x 1.2m) and protection of the new tree.

Tree pit sinkage

Tree pit sinkage

Our best advice for these areas is to fill the area intended to be paved with porous paving to the top, and allow it to settle naturally over the course of a few months. They should be hand compacted a few times over this period and topped up with loose aggregate to minimise trip hazard.

Once the area has settled fully, the top 30-40mm of loose stone can be removed, and the StoneSet is then simply applied on top.

Of course this is not always possible, so hand compact as much as possible and allow some excess budget to reapply the top layer of paving in the event of any sinkage.

 

New tree surround install

New tree surround install

 

Existing urban tree surround

When we are installing over an established tree, it is usually just a matter of removing 30-40mm of the top layer and replacing with new StoneSet paving. Tree roots can be an issue, so we will allow a small gap when finishing up to a trunk (about 50mm) and tree roots (about 20mm). This is done in consideration of trip hazards and potential root movement or tree growth.

Tree Surround, Freemantle, WA

Exisiting tree in Freemantle, WA

 

Tree Collars

We will always recommend the installation of a 200mm dia. tree collar for new or young trees. The inside of the collar can be back filled with loose stone after installation of the StoneSet porous paving to discourage the accumulation of litter.

We recommend creating a metal ring tree collar, which can be removed or left in place.

Large tree collar back filled with blue metal

Large tree collar back filled with blue metal

 

Stone or Rubber

Stone offers a strong, solid finish that performs as a pathway in the same way the surrounding concrete, blocks or asphalt will. For longevity it relies on good compaction of base, and minimal root and tree trunk disruption. We generally recommend the incorporation of rubber within the stone mix if roots are prominent or cracking has been an issue previously. See this video to see the flexibility you can achieve with this blend.

Why not just use rubber on its own, you might ask? Well, in our experience rubber has two main flaws as a product for tree surround paving.

Unlike solid stone, rubber granules are susceptible to shrinkage. This can lead to gaps appearing around the edge of the tree pit and ultimately result in lifting of the surface.

The second is a concern regarding porosity. Rubber granules are generally used in a 4mm size, which leaves very small voids for water penetration. It also leaves a finish with greater surface tension, which needs to be broken each time it starts to rain to allow the flow of water. This means the root ball won’t receive as much water as a stone 6 or 10mm finish. The tree will then be more likely to go looking for water, leading to more root movement and the potential of surface movement or cracking.

Rubber granules are a great addition to many scenarios, but need to be used within a mix of stone to create a hardwearing, stable surface and maximise void content.

The Entrance tree pits Charcoal rubber glass

StoneSet rubber mix tree pit

 

Tree Trenches

A tree trench is the term we use to describe a large area that has trees in it, but has areas between the trees that will be trafficable by foot. A nature strip, as pictured, would be a tree trench.

With tree trenches you need to consider the higher than normal volume of traffic using the areas between the trees. All preparation and consideration is the same as a normal tree pit, but with the area away from the tree trunk needing to be treated as a regular footpath. This means gaining compaction to match required specification for use, and if compaction is an issue, the use of a recycled plastic cellular system to give base stability and load bearing capability without risk of sinkage. We use the Atlantis Gravel Cell.

1221, Macquarie Park Gravel Cell

Trench reinforced with Gravel Cell

 

Particle Size

There are two main considerations when deciding on particle size – expected traffic, and porosity required.

Large tree surrounds have a good catchment area so a smaller stone can be used. We would recommend no smaller than 6mm. Small tree pits will generally receive less foot traffic but require a higher void content to maximise water penetration. A 10mm stone is recommended in this case.

1602, Campbell Section 5, Tree Pits, 10mm Koonunga1 SMALL

10mm tree pit StoneSet mix in a Canberra Park

 

StoneSet always looks at each project based on its own merits, and will customise a solution and product mix recommendation depending on the individual site requirements.

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What to Know About Common Pathway Materials – The Pros and Cons

Your pathways and walkways do more than provide a smooth passage to walk throughout your property. They can instantly uplift your landscape’s style and design, adding elegance and class to it depending on the material you use. Walkways invite you to spend time with nature and explore your backyard, guiding the eye towards specific details and features. They also make a garden feel warmer and more accessible.

The best material to use for your pathway depends on your budget and preference, as you can construct paths and walkways of different styles. Here’s what you need to know about other pathway materials and their pros and cons:

  1. Stepping Stone Pathways

Stepping stones are durable and easy to arrange in various artistic patterns or styles, adding more sophistication to your garden. These stones are available in numerous colours and styles, and you can grow herbs like thyme between the pavers to create a stunning effect.

Unfortunately, they can be pretty heavy and require a level gravel base, meaning they take more effort to install. Weeds can sprout between the pavers. If you lay them individually in your garden, you will have to manually lift, relevel, and edge the grass surrounding them once every few years.

  1. Gravel Pathways

Gravel pathways are favoured due to their affordability, making them accessible to various homeowners. Due to the nature of the material, it also enables good drainage, which means you won’t deal with stagnant water sitting on your pathways. It’s an environmentally-friendly choice since gravel is usually a recycled byproduct from other quarry processes. It’s easy to install and requires minimal levelling or digging.

However, large pieces of gravel are sometimes difficult to walk on, use mobility devices over, or push anything with wheels. It also usually migrates outside of the path into the surrounding areas, creating a scattered look. Weeds tend to grow through gravel quickly, and the material will eventually need to be refreshed, especially as foot traffic and other objects displace it.

  1. Poured Concrete Pathways

Poured concrete gives you clean, crisp lines that add more order and tidiness to your home. You can also colour and stamp concrete to match your home’s style, creating a cohesive look. It offers a flat, consistent surface that is perfect for objects with wheels, like mobility devices, strollers, and wagons. It’s simple to shovel during frigid weather and can last for decades if you care for it properly.

Still, concrete can crack due to temperature fluctuations. It also requires a thoroughly-prepared base and reinforcement with rebar. Lastly, you’ll have to build a frame to pour into, so it’s best to leave this to professional installers.

  1. Wooden Boardwalk Pathways

If you have experience in construction projects, building a wooden boardwalk will be a piece of cake for you. You can use the material to fashion just about any design you want, and you can make it eco-friendly by using recycled or reclaimed wood. It is also pleasant to walk on with bare feet since it does not store extreme temperatures, unlike stone or concrete. You can match the pathways to your existing patios or wooden decks, and the wood will weather beautifully.

Nonetheless, the price of lumber in 2021 is at an all-time high. If you don’t have any handy experience, installing wooden boardwalk pathways will be more expensive than gravel or stepping stone. Since they’re made of wood, you’ll need to treat, stain, or paint them every few years to maintain their appearance, especially when it starts to break down.

  1. Patio Paver Pathways

Lastly, patio pavers are available in many colours and styles that you can use to create stunning patterns. They carry more personality than standard concrete, and they’re easy to replace if one gets damaged. You can grow breathtaking ground covers between them or use coloured polymeric sand to keep them steady.

However, preparing the ground for pavers takes a lot of effort and skill, so you’ll have to call paving installers to do this for you. You will also have to refresh polymeric sand between the joints as the pathway wears and tears, typically every five years.

Conclusion

Each of these materials has compelling advantages and tricky disadvantages, and which one works best for you ultimately depends on your needs and preferences. By using any of these pathway materials for your garden, you’ll have a beautiful walkway that will enhance your home.

Stoneset is the leading team of paving contractors and installers in Sydney, specialising in resin-bound paving. We have an impressive portfolio of work, from porous driveways to national landmarks. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you!

 

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