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Posted 09/16/2019 in Tree Service

How to deal with exposed tree roots?

How to deal with exposed tree roots?

Many homeowners can get frustrated when roots expose themselves so they ask, how to deal with exposed tree roots? The fact is that trees will occasionally grow roots on top of the ground of the lawn or likely even buckle sidewalks and driveways. These floor roots can be quite a nuisance to mowers, children playing, pets, etc. 

There are numerous reasons as to why the roots start to grow above ground. Some tree species are extra susceptible to surface roots than others, most extensively silver maple, poplar, and willow. But nearly any large, an older tree can produce some ground roots. The question is what to do about exposed tree roots and how can you avoid this problem in the future?

Although trees do send a few roots down deep for moisture and stability, most tree roots have a tendency to grow more shallow than most people think, it's very normal for some tree roots to grow just 4-8 inches deep. Just as the trunk of the tree grows in girth with age, so do the roots, root systems can be up to 2 and 3 times the width of the tree.. So through the years, some of the shallow, older roots of the tree will naturally extend to the ground level. Sometimes, roots end up visible due to erosion of the soil. Compacted, poorly drained soil will even cause more shallow root development. Trees are simply predisposed to having shallow roots. This consists of many different tree species to name a few Norway Maples, Red Maples, Silver Maples, Willows, aspens, Pin Oaks, and Beeches. Most huge trees that grow 30+ feet tall can increase the chances of surface roots after a lengthy age. It’s simply how they grow. Still, other elements play an element in exposed tree roots. 

Poor soil 

Contrary to popular belief, tree roots commonly do not grow very deep unless they are in loose and sandy soil. Surface rooting is common in compacted or clay-based soil often discovered in city areas. When the roots within the first few inches of soil get huge enough, they grow wide which causes them to bust into the surface. Then what happens is gradual rain and wind erode the soil above them which causes them to get exposed.  

Lack of oxygen

Roots need oxygen. In compacted soil, they should grow up to the surface to get enough oxygen to hold the health of the tree, it wants to live and breath just as humans to so they will find a way to the surface. In many cases, trees with ground exposed roots are suffering to breathe and are doing their first instinct.


Don’t cut roots!

Don’t cut the exposed tree roots, no matter how tempting it is. Cutting them can offer easy entry points for illnesses and harmful insects. It can also negatively affect a tree’s balance, making it much more likely to fall over in a terrible storm. Finally, slicing roots can kill lots of tiny “feeder roots” that permit the tree to soak up water and vitamins. This can result in dieback within the cover or whole dying of the tree.  

Add topsoil 

Adding topsoil over tree roots mitigate some problems, too. If you add the wrong soil or cover the tree with an excessive amount of soil the tree won’t get sufficient water to live with enough hydration. Plus, the roots will possibly develop via the soil you just introduced before long.

In short, this doesn’t solve the problem for a long period of time, might be a temporary solution, however, if you want to do this to assist deal with surface roots, mix equal components topsoil and compost. Then, add 2-3  inches of the soil across the base of the tree. Never add more than four inches of soil to the vicinity under the tree! Otherwise, the threat is suffocating the tree.

Add grass

Adding grass is doable but, you can run into problems down the road. Ever wonder why grass or vegetation underneath your tree dies so rapid or turns yellow rather quickly? It’s due to the fact the tree’s shady cover blocks different types of grass from getting sufficient daylight. Plus, the tree roots take most of the water in the soil for themselves. It can also be different for grass to take root when roots are beneath.

Instead of grass, you can plant drought-tolerant groundcover under the tree. This might save you the problem of having to mow in that area this would more so mimic nature and remember that moss is considered one of the best types of groundcover!

Add mulch

Yes, in reality, mulch is the best way to deal with exposed tree roots. When you add 2-3 inches of organic mulch, you get double the blessings. It's highly recommended going this route to place wood chips. This will help with keeping the roots cool and wet, allowing them to breathe. Don’t put down greater than four inches, and don’t pile mulch against the trunk. It gives your landscape a clean look in addition to moisturizing and protecting the roots.


Avoid planting trees with shallow root systems

If you've got a compact or clay soil, your tree will almost certainly have some surface roots. Still, some trees are just naturally way more likely to have them than others. Steer clear of notorious surface rooters like aspens, beeches, river birches, maples, pine oaks, spruces, sweetgums, and willows. These trees have inherently more shallow roots and are much more likely to pose a hassle to your landscape. 

Plant trees with deeper root systems

Some trees have deeper root systems. These trees will make for much better landscaping and dramatically reduce the risk of exposed roots. According to Hunker.com these are recommended trees with deep root systems: White oak, hickory, black gum, sassafras, sweetgum, Japanese pagoda, butternut, and some pines develop deep taproots. During their first years of life, the trees display remarkably little top growth because all of their energy is focused on creating a deep and diverse root system.

Consider a smaller tree

Trees that mature at beneath 30 feet tall will typically won’t have roots that grow massive enough to purpose foremost issues. If the size isn't always as important to you, keep in mind varieties like cherry trees, dogwoods, magnolias, mimosas, Japanese maples, redbuds, and lilac trees, are just a few. 

Don’t plant your tree too deep

Planting your tree deep within the soil may or may not save you from exposed ground roots.  People think that but on the contrary, it’s recommended to plant tree root balls just a couple of inches below ground, but make sure the root ball isn’t uncovered, or it can dry out and be more at risk of iciness harm.

Give trees room to grow

Give your tree space if there is pavement close by. Large-growing trees need to be planted at least six feet away from paved surfaces. If you need to plant your trees between the sidewalk and the road, make certain the planting spot is as a minimum 8 feet wide. Keep in mind that some cities and towns have regulations with specific guidelines on planting, also be sure if you have an HOA check with them for community rules when it comes to planting. 

Hopefully, this helped you learn more about how to deal with exposed tree roots, what to do and how to avoid this in the future. You might be asking yourself, I need tree planting near me or maybe you need tree removal near me. Arborists Near Me is a great resource for homeowners when it comes to tree care. If you need a professional tree care company to quote your job search your zip code along with the type of service you need to call a company directly or fill out the tree service request to get up to 3 FREE quotes. We help hundreds of people save up to $500 on tree services. 

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