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What to Do with Tree Roots Above Ground?

If you’ve noticed thick tree roots in your yard, you’re probably wondering what to do with tree roots above ground. As a trusted tree service company in Nashville, Tree Care Inc. knows the best methods for addressing exposed tree roots without hurting the health of your tree. Here they discuss everything you should know about the topic.

The Problem with Above-Ground Tree Roots

Soil erosion from rain, wind, and foot traffic is the most likely reason tree roots grow above ground. However, it can also occur from too little space in your yard, large underground obstructions (like boulders), and compacted soil. Exposed roots can pose serious problems for your yard.

Increased Vulnerability

When tree roots grow above ground, they’re more susceptible to damage from vehicles, yard tools, foot traffic, and animals. Damaged tree roots not only make the tree more vulnerable to falling over but also to infestation and disease. An unhealthy tree poses a serious threat to your yard.

Damage and Liability Issues

Trees can also cause costly damage to your lawnmower or other yard equipment. They also pose a trip hazard for unwary guests or older adults, which could leave you liable for medical bills.

Decreased Yard Function

Even if the exposed tree roots only take up small areas of your yard, they still decrease your enjoyment of the space. From restricting where you set a swing set to roping off the area so no one trips, you’ll have less space to enjoy in your yard.

Tips for Handling Above-Ground Roots

If you’re considering what to do with tree roots above ground, your certified arborist will suggest one of four solutions, depending on the situation.

Add Mulch

Most tree experts prefer adding mulch, as it’s the solution that best protects tree health and prevents the problem from occurring again. This technique clears the grass around the roots and replaces it with a thick layer of mulch.

The mulch acts as insulation for the roots and doesn’t require mowing. Avoid stained mulch that could leach harmful dyes into the tree roots.

Consider Topsoil

Adding topsoil can help cover exposed tree roots, but it doesn’t protect the tree as well and can erode or compact much more easily than mulch. You can much more easily add too much soil, which can also make the problem worse. However, many homeowners still prefer this solution because it requires less investment than mulch.

Use Cover Plants

Consider covering up the roots with taller shrubs that don’t require much mowing, such as ajuga or wild violets. These can remove the roots from sight while avoiding issues with mowing, and most people won’t trample over wildflowers so you also prevent tripping. However, you should ask your arborist about this because planting too many or the wrong type of plants can prevent your tree from getting adequate water.

Remove the Tree

In extreme cases when you can’t hide the exposed roots and the tree poses a serious threat to your property, your professional tree service may suggest removing the tree. This can prevent the tree from damaging or infesting other trees in your yard if it becomes unhealthy.

Practices to Avoid

If you’re wondering what to do with tree roots above ground, always avoid the following methods.

Pave Over

Paving over the roots not only results in unstable and uneven pavers, but it also slowly suffocates and rots the roots. This means the treed dies and you still have a tripping hazard in your yard.

Cut Off

Never cut the tree roots. While a certified arborist may know which roots they can cut and how to do so, it often kills the tree. You can usually find a better solution, including removal. Removing the tree rather than cutting the root means you don’t watch the tree slowly decay and die and risk falling and damage.

Excessive Covering

The most common mistake is applying too much mulch or topsoil, which then suffocates the roots. Even if you feel confident applying the mulch yourself, a professional arborist can correctly apply the treatment without any complications.

Preventing Roots From Growing Above Ground

If you don’t want to deal with exposed roots, you can do several things to prevent them from growing above ground. 

Understand Your Soil Type

Understanding your soil type not only helps you know what nutrients you need in your fertilizer, but it also helps you know when you shouldn’t plant trees in your yard at all. If you have heavily compacted soil or a large amount of clay, you should find other ways to beautify your yard.

Avoid Heavy Traffic

The more you walk on your soil, the faster it compacts and prevents the roots from growing underground. This doesn’t mean you should walk under your tree, but if you’re hosting an event or have heavy foot traffic, divert it away from the tree.

You should also avoid building structures or doing construction projects near trees. Never park your vehicle under the tree. Not only does it risk dropping branches or debris on your car, but it also leads to dense soil that roots can’t grow through.

Lawn and Tree Maintenance

Taking care of your lawn and trees can help prevent compacted soil and unhealthy trees. Certain trees more frequently develop exposed roots, so ask your arborist about specific ways to care for your tree. The best maintenance practices for your yard include:

  • Regularly water your trees.
  • Customize your fertilizer to address the missing nutrients in your yard.
  • Have an arborist care for your trees with annual examinations and regular trimming and pruning.

Tree Care Inc. Can Handle Your Tree Roots

Now that you know what to do with tree roots above ground, you can find a professional tree service to provide a solution. At Tree Care Inc. we always provide superior service and ensure you have all the knowledge you need for a beautiful and healthy yard. Whether you’re wondering how to handle dying trees or need perfectly customized fertilizer, we always find a solution.

Obtain a free estimate online or by calling (615) 316-5166.


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