Everything You Need to Know About Surface Roots
Surface roots can pose plenty of risks and can ruin the visual experience of a yard with trees. You want the trees in your yard to be healthy and look great, so what should you do about surface roots? Read below to learn about how surface roots are caused, and what you can do to keep them under wraps to let your trees flourish.
What Causes Surface Roots
There are a handful of reasons why your trees might have visible roots on the surface. Usually, it isn’t your fault.
Roots play an important role in the life cycle of trees – they anchor the tree down while transporting water and minerals between the soil and the tree. In order to do this effectively, roots must have oxygen. When surface roots are visibly overgrown, a lack of oxygen is likely the culprit. Otherwise, the quality of the soil may be affecting your tree roots. Finally, some species will develop surface roots naturally over time, as their health wears down.
Why Cutting Roots is Usually Not Recommended
You may be tempted to cut the surface roots of your tree, but beware: doing this will only create more problems.
First, roots keep trees anchored to the ground. By removing surface roots, you will turn your tree into a ticking time bomb waiting to fall over – this creates a huge safety hazard. Also, surface roots are connected to other roots that bring water and nutrients to the tree. If you cut your surface roots, the other roots will suffer, leading to rotting or even death in the tree. Finally, cutting surface roots leaves an opening for pests and diseases to infiltrate the tree.
READ MORE: The Dangers of D.I.Y. Tree Removal
So, if you can’t cut surface roots, what should you do about them? Keep reading for our tips.
What To Do About Surface Roots
Use Root Barriers
One of the dangers associated with surface roots is that they can quickly become unruly. They can reach areas you don’t want them to, brushing up against your home or driveway. Luckily, you can use a root barrier to stop this from happening. A root barrier acts as a fence, blocking roots from going outside of a set perimeter.
In the long term, roots still may pose problems, as they could grow beneath your barrier. However, this implementation will protect your home from the immediate damage of surface roots.
Cover Roots with Mulch
Mulch is your best bet at keeping your tree healthy. Planting mulch underneath the tree and around the roots will improve its soil and assist the roots as they deliver moisture and nutrients to the tree. Don’t put more than three or four inches of mulch down – overwhelming the tree will only cause more damage.
Apply Topsoil and Compost at the Tree’s Base
This trick should have similar effects to adding mulch around the roots. Mix an equal amount of topsoil and compost, and add a few inches to the tree’s base. Note that this is only a temporary fix, as the surface roots will eventually grow over your mixture.
Give Trees Plenty of Space
This is a preemptive measure to stop surface roots from causing potential damage. When you plant trees in your yard, think carefully about how they are spaced out. Make sure that trees are planted far away from your home, driveway, power lines, or other important fixtures. Trees should also be given distance from each other, as intertwining roots can damage the health of the trees.
Do Tree Roots Pose a Real Threat?
Surface roots are undeniably irritating – but are there any truly dangerous outcomes you should expect to face?
In most cases, no. Surface roots are common, and they don’t necessarily indicate that a tree has any health problems. Here’s where the real problem comes in: surface roots are easy to cut or break by mistake, and when that happens, your tree is in major trouble.
Tree roots, whether visible or not, are important for a number of reasons. They keep trees anchored to the ground, preventing them from falling over unexpectedly. Roots also connect the tree to the soil, creating a passageway for water and nutrients to be fed into the tree. These are what allow the tree to grow large and healthy. So, if you notice visible tree roots, keep an eye on both the roots and the tree to ensure that nothing is wrong.
READ MORE: How to Manage Enroaching Tree Roots
In conclusion, visible tree roots can be a pest, but don’t be alarmed. Your tree can remain healthy and strong as long as you don’t damage the roots in any way. Consider using mulch or other materials to encourage your trees’ growth, and carefully plan where you plant your trees, and you shouldn’t have any major problems. If you have any questions about maintaining trees safely, speak to a professional arborist.