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Tree roots at the surface

surface tree roots

Surface roots make it difficult to mow grass. It is tempting to cut these roots off to make mowing easier. A few small roots can be severed on well-established trees. Cutting or damaging roots larger than about one inch diameter could cause harm to the tree. See: root pruning guidelines.

The solution that provides for the healthiest trees is to remove turfgrass and apply a thin layer of mulch. Shrubs or ground covers could be planted before mulch is applied. Take great care not to cut many roots when planting under the canopy. Roots greater than half an inch diameter should not be cut when planting under the tree.

Soil can be added to raise the level to just above the top of the roots. The soil added should be of a coarser texture than the existing site soil. This will allow roots to grow because air and water can easily penetrate to the existing soil. Do not add soil over roots if roots have grown up and into mulch placed against the trunk.

When soil of a finer texture is added, water and air penetrate with difficulty and tree health can decline. Operating soil spreading equipment over the roots will compact the soil and can damage roots. Spread soil by hand to eliminate compaction and root damage under the canopy.surface tree root