A Homeowner's Guide To Surface Tree Roots

Most trees produce a few surface roots, which generally don't pose much of a problem in the landscape. These roots only become a problem when the root growth gets out of control and then starts interfering with mowing and lawncare, as well as posing a tripping hazard. The following can help you understand why roots can rise to the surface, and what you can do to prevent it.

Tree Growth Habits

Some trees are simply more likely to produce surface roots. Maples, willows, and ornamental cherries are examples of trees with shallow rooting and extensive surface roots. Most conifers, white oaks, and hickory trees, on the other hand, are more likely to produce deep tap roots and few surface roots unless there is a problem. You can minimize surface roots by avoiding the former and opting for the latter types of trees.

Water Issues

Water is the main factor, after general growth habit, that can cause surface roots to form. Frequent shallow watering that only wets the top couple inches of soil can cause tree roots to stay within this zone of ready water availability as opposed to forming deep roots that seek out groundwater sources. One way to counteract this is to avoid frequent, shallow irrigation and instead only water trees every couple of weeks, taking care to provide enough water to soak the soil deeply.

Soil Condition

Compacted or heavy clay soils can also lead to shallow rooting simply because the tree is unable to easily penetrate these compacted soils. Adding compost to the soil in the yard before planting the tree is the best remedy.  Unfortunately, this is a hard problem to fix after the trees is established. You can aerate around the tree, taking care not to damage roots, to help break up the soil. A tree service can also perform trench composting to help improve soil quality. This method involves carefully digging trenches around the tree and filling them with compost.

Root Pruning

In some cases, root pruning is an option. Lilac shrubs, for example, tend to send out surface roots that then produce suckers. The roots themselves rarely cause problems, but the suckers do. You can cut these suckers off just below surface level to put an end to them. A tree service may also be be able to prune away surface roots. This is typically done while the tree is dormant. Care is taken to not remove enough root that it compromises the stability or health of the tree.

For more help, contact a tree service by visiting sites such as https://www.hodgsontreeservice.com/