If your home has exposed tree roots, you may be tempted to cut them down or cover them with more soil. However, doing either of these things can cause bigger problems for your tree and your users.

This article explains why you shouldn’t prune exposed tree roots or add more soil on top. Doing either can cause serious harm to the tree. We also review some methods of treating exposed tree roots by cutting them down or leaving them uncovered. 

Let’s start with why cutting or covering exposed tree roots is bad for tree health.

Danger of cutting roots

Why cutting exposed tree roots can cause problems:

Tree damage: Cutting exposed tree roots can damage the tree and make the tree unhealthy. An unhealthy tree is something to be concerned about as it can cause property damage, injury and even death. If you suspect that a tree on your property is damaged or, more seriously, dying, contact a professional arborist to check the tree’s health.

Kill Tree: Cutting exposed tree roots can cause enough damage to kill the tree. Since it’s impossible to measure what the root system looks like underground, it may be pruning the primary roots that provide nutrients to the tree. In this case, the tree’s chances of survival are greatly reduced.

Harmful to tree stability: Unstable trees are dangerous to people and property. Like damaged trees, unstable trees can cause severe property damage, injury, or death. This is especially true in areas that experience extreme weather patterns which is why regular tree pruning  is essential.

Nutrient deprivation of the tree: Cutting the roots can become the tree’s main source of nutrients and water. Cutting off exposed roots prevents the flow of these essential nutrients and water to key parts of the tree, which eventually makes the tree sick, unstable and unsafe.

The problem of adding more dirt

Adding more soil is also not a solution. By doing so:

Ignoring the underlying problem: Tree roots are designed to spread below the soil surface. So, if you have exposed tree roots on your property, it could be a sign of a more serious problem, such as soil erosion.

Nutrient deficiencies in trees: Covering exposed tree roots with soil may prevent the roots from receiving adequate amounts of oxygen (tree roots need oxygen). This may be why the roots came to the surface in the first place.

How to deal with exposed tree roots

Now that you know why cutting or covering exposed tree roots is bad for your tree, here are some things you can do with your exposed tree roots:

Mulch or compost mulch: Because mulch isn’t as dense or heavy as soil, you can place mulch over exposed roots without suffocating. Other ground covers can be used over exposed roots. Compost is another option because it is lighter and has more pores for oxygen to penetrate deeper into the soil. This provides a medium for planting ground covers such as Pachysandra, Vinca Minor, Ivy and Jasmine. Make sure the ground you choose isn’t too dense so you don’t choke the roots.

Restrict Access to Zones: Another option is to block or restrict access to exposed root zones. This will help reduce the risk of damaging the roots or tripping others.

Add Foliage: Depending on where the exposed roots are on your property, another option is to add plants or shrubs near and around the area. This reduces traffic and hides exposed routes from view. However, avoid using deer-attracting plants as they can cause additional problems.

Seek expert advice

Dealing with exposed tree roots may seem like an easy solution. However, depending on the size and age of the tree, exposed roots can pose real problems for homeowners. Fortunately, the local landscaping experts at Tree Soldiers can quickly determine the root cause of your tree’s problem and fix it with expert service and advice. Our team of experienced landscaping professionals have helped thousands of homeowners keep their lawns and landscaping  in top condition year-round. So, whether it’s exposed tree roots or lawn care service and maintenance, Tree Soldiers are ready to help. Contact us (716) 320-7799 today to learn more or to request a quote!

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