What do you do w/above ground oak tree roots?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by UGA, May 22, 2002.

  1. UGA

    UGA LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 326

    There are a few trees in several of my yards that are quite old. Some of these trees are knotty pine,red oak, dogwood, maple as well as others. I was wondering the other day if there is a good method of covering the emerging roots so I'm not having to bump all over them or even skin them with the blades. I have been having to use the trimmer on occassion to prevent scalping a root but was wondering if anybody else has covered them with good soil and overseeded or is this not that big of a deal to most.
  2. cos

    cos LawnSite Addict
    Messages: 1,253

    Tell the lady, they gotta go!!!!!!

  3. UGA

    UGA LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 326

    I think most people would look at me like I was crazy. I know of a few that really do need to come down as they are leaning way over (cedars). But I couldn't imagine cutting down a 50 (or more) year old oak tree especially one of mine.
  4. cos

    cos LawnSite Addict
    Messages: 1,253

    My husky 61 with 24" bar has no feelings. LOL
  5. ADMowing

    ADMowing LawnSite Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 175

    We had a forester here in town tell us to cover the root system with mulch and/or make a bed for flowers around the tree and put in about 6" of top soil. Makes a nice flower garden for the customer and you can mow and weedeat around that safely. Don't know how far your roots go out from tree or how many trees your are talking about, but this seems to be a nice solution for us and some of our customers. Yes, and some of customers have had to take out dead trees. Here in Florida, you need a permit to remove an oak tree that is over so many inches in diameter unless you can prove that it is dying. We had to take digital pictures of one that we removed from behind a customer's house. County said to do it to cover our rear ends!

    Hope this helps a little.
  6. wxmn6

    wxmn6 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 163

    I would not cover the exposed roots of the tree with top soil. Sometime it is natural for trees to grow with some of its roots exposed on top of ground. I tried to cover the roots with top soil but a few years later some of the roots came back to top of ground. So I decide to leave it the way it is because I think that is the natural way of trees to grow.

    So what I do when mowing over them is to raise the deck all the way up when driving over it. If the roots is really big that mower could chip it off with deck all the way up, I just drive around it and trim around the roots later.
  7. robert payer

    robert payer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    WXMN6, Liked your thought of how that is just the natural way that they grow. We are all to busy trying to control everything. We have been conditioned that every thing and condition is fixable. Consumer products and marketing have created a quick fix, buy it reasoning. Who was here first us or the trees? Who will be here after us if we leave them alone? These were just some thought. Please do not be offeneded any one. Just a wake up call to our selves. I know people hire us to solve these problems and we should.

    a conservative speaking like a liberal,
  8. Tony Harrell

    Tony Harrell LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 739

    I was wondering if the roots coming to the surface might be a sign of soil compaction, or possibly searchng for water? I have 3 very old, very large maples that are exactly the way you described. I use the trimmer around them for now, but am going to install a 2-3" mulch bed and annuals and maybe some azaleas. I was thinking of renting a bededger to cut some of the smaller outlying roots but was told that maples are shallow rooted and it would make the tree unstable. I'm planning on edging a very large pattern around every tree and then install the ground cover. One is on a VERY steep slope and I may have to use something like monkey grass to cover the ground. Anybody have any ideas or suggestions?
  9. Russ

    Russ LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 540

    Never cover exposed roots with soil. To do so will cause certain decline in the health of the tree. It wont become evident for 3-5 years and by then it will be too late. If the roots that are above ground are in danger of damage from mowing or trimming, cover with 2-3 in. of organic mulch. The mulch will allow the roots to breath. Remulch each year as needed, but not too deep.
  10. ADMowing

    ADMowing LawnSite Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 175

    Different trees, different soils, different parts of the country and different terrain. Probably best to listen to someone in your own part of the country about advice on this. Only know what we've been told about Florida and it seems to work well for our customers.

    Customers with big, prestige homes don't want root systems showing under their grandfather oak in the front yard. Several people we know have had flower beds with top soil around them and they have thrived just fine for years and years and years.

    But, like I said -- there may be a vast difference between Florida and where you are working. We have lots of loose sand and I think the top soil actually helps the trees (keeps in the nutrients). Drainage is important too! I wouldn't put plastic down under the flower bed.

    Licensed forester with largest local tree nursery told us about this idea. Maybe you could check with someone like that in your locale.

    Mulch has been wonderful for our Southern Magnolia tree. The mulch idea is really a nice one and it is very pretty too!


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