Exposed Tree Roots

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by CSTGTP, Jul 26, 2001.


    CSTGTP LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    I have a 20' maple tree in my front yard that has a network of exposed roots on the ground. They have been hit by lawn mower blades and make it unpleasant to walk in the yard. The yard has only a mild gradient so erosion isn't much of a problem. How do I remedy the problem? Should I add top soil or can I get rid of the roots somehow?

    HOWARD JONES LawnSite Member
    Messages: 233

    I have added topsoil around maples, as have others around me - I think it is actually attractive, blending the contour of the lawn up to the actual trunk rather than having the tops of roots showing as the tree gets larger. Contrary to common belief, many trees do not have a real tap root going straight down but several medium-size roots almost horizontal, so removing all the roots may be impractical, depending on their size. Speaking long term, the roots are supposedly seeking moisture, so infrequent deep watering versus frequent shallow watering may encourage the roots to go deeper - but this is a maple's habit, anyhow.
  3. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    If your maple is only 20', and already has exposed roots, your best recourse would be to replace it now, before you have leg-sized roots on the surface in 10-15 years. It is probably a silver maple, which surface roots readily. Silver maples are also weak - over half of downed limbs after storms around here are silver maples, so you would also be saving a lot of cleanup work in the future.

    Adding topsoil is a possibility, but again if it is a silver maple you will have to repeat that every few years forever.

    Any tree will surface root if it is in a wet spot, or irrigated too frequently. If that is the problem, improve drainage or reduce irrigation. But you will not get the roots to submerge in any event.
  4. ArboristSite

    ArboristSite LawnSite Member
    Messages: 65

    Well, I agree with both of you. Although, burying the exposed roots are not recommended. Think of those exposed roots as the same as the trunk of the tree because they actually have dead cambium (bark) on them. Anything above ground is different from below. Picture it like this. If you were building a flower bed around the tree, you would not cover up the base of the tree (at least I hope not). The reason you dont cover up surface roots or base of trees is it rots the covered areas out. The tree will slowly decline.

    Reasons for surface roots
    Too much water
    Not enough water
    Soil compaction.
  5. SpringValley

    SpringValley LawnSite Member
    Messages: 147

    Arborsite: Isn't the reason for the exposed roots is the fact that it is a Maple? I mow around Large oaks, large tulip poplars, and large maples. The maples have knarly, exposed roots at the surface, these other trees do not. Replace the Maple with a nice fast growing Tulip poplar. I think it is a more attractive tree anyway.

  6. ArboristSite

    ArboristSite LawnSite Member
    Messages: 65

    No, this is a little more common on fast growing trees. IE Cottonwoods, maples,etc Although I havent seen many poplars do it. It is due to the reasons listed above. Apple trees do this also. I also used to mow around them. They did suck to mow around. Most commonly you find exposed roots on appartment complexes or commercial properties because when it rains these places rarely turn the sprinklers off. Giving you a nice constant swamp. Roots then come above ground for oxygen. Some trees roots dont become surface roots. They just show discoloration in the leaves. Turning yellow mostly.
  7. gogetter

    gogetter Banned
    Messages: 3,256

    I was going to post this same basic question, but found this old thread in a search.

    I have a customer that wants to be rid of the many roots in her backyard. The roots are from two trees. One is in her yard, the other is in the neighbors yard. The roots are all in the same general area since the trees are right next to each other.

    She had asked me if they could be "removed". The neighbor told them they can do whatever they want to the roots. He didn't care.
    (But that doesn't mean he wants the tree taken down).

    What are my options? Cover them with soil as mentioned above?
    Or grind them out? I gather that neither is ideal for the roots or trees, but the customer wants something done. So it will likely need to be one of these options.

    My feeling is that they aren't too concerned about long term. In other words, if covering them caused the roots to rot and cause harm to the trees in years to come, I don't get the feeling that they care too much. These aren't "showpiece" trees. Just big old trees that the customer doesn't want to pay to have taken down (nor does the neighbor).

    It would seem that covering them with soil would be less damaging, or have a slower effect on the trees as opposed to grinding them out with a small stump grinder. Agree?

    I have to do a little grading on this yard anyway (from some construction they just had done on the house), so the added soil in this area would actually help to make the lawn more level.

    Any input is appreciated.

Share This Page