If you have large trees, chances are that they have roots coming above the dirt level, also known as surface roots. These can be cumbersome for lawn maintenance, be a tripping hazard, and even crack driveways or sidewalks. Not to mention, these roots are not aesthetically pleasing. If you have these in your yard, one question you might have is; what can you do about them? Our team at Five Star Tree Services want to go over how you can handle surface roots and the cause behind them.
The Cause for Surface Roots
One thing that causes them is bad soil quality. For most trees, the roots can be found in the top 12 inches of soil. When in the right soil, it’s not common for roots to become exposed unless the soil itself is powdered and loose. You can also get surface roots from extremely compact soil, mostly found in Metropolitan areas. Constant heavy rains and wind can erode the soil from around tree roots, leaving them exposed.
Lack of Oxygen
If the soil does not have enough oxygen in it, this can also be a major contributing factor for surface roots. Tree roots need water, soil, and oxygen in order to survive. If you have soil that is compact, this can cut off oxygen supplies the tree needs to live. Therefore, in order to get sufficient oxygen supplies, the tree will grow its roots on the surface in order to survive. In most cases, when you see a tree with surface roots, it’s being resourceful by trying to acquire resources it needs when growing in unideal places.
Dealing with Surface Roots
Never Cut the Roots
Do not cut the surface roots! Even though this might seem like a good idea and an easy way to fix the problem, it’s actually not. The roots are what collect water for the tree and this is a basic element of how the tree survives. Also, if you inflict cuts on the roots, this can allow infection, diseases, and infestations the chance to infiltrate and get inside the tree. Cutting the roots can also weaken the structural integrity of the tree, making it a fall risk.
Cover Roots with Soil and Nutrients
You can cover the roots with 2 inches of a combination of topsoil and compost. This will help manage the surface roots and prevent more from forming. However, if they do continue to pop up, you can put another 2 inches of compost and topsoil over them again. You do have to keep in mind not to add too much, otherwise this can choke out the tree if too much is added to the roots. Meaning you could kill it. After all, the surface roots formed looking for enough oxygen.
Using mulch is a great way to cover the roots again, while also creating a moist environment for the tree. This also means you don’t have to mow where the mulch is present. Use 4 inches of mulch/wood chips to cover the tree roots. It will level the ground once again, keep the roots cool, and help retain moisture. Keep in mind to not add any more than 4 inches and avoid the mulch touching the trunk of the tree.
Plant Trees with Deep Root Systems
Certain trees naturally have shallow root systems, while others have deep ones. To avoid the roots from showing, the first step when picking a tree is to get ones with these deep root systems.
Some trees that are known to develop shallow roots include:
-some maples such as red, silver, sugar, freeman, and Norway
The trees which typically develop deeper roots include:
-blue map book cedar
-brilliant downpour tree
-some oak trees such as red, white, swamp white, and willow
Preferred Planting Locations
When planting trees, make sure you spread them far enough apart from each other and not to plant them too deep. You can’t completely prevent surface roots by planting the tree deeper. You should typically plant your trees two inches above grade. Always be aware of how big your tree is going to get.
How Five Star Tree Services Can Help
If you find that your trees are developing surface roots, our team at Five Star Tree Services can help you figure out your best course of action. Give us a call at (416) 990-3355 for our tree care in Toronto services!