Tree Roots

Old 04-08-08, 07:52 PM
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Tree Roots

I just purchased a new home and in the back yard there are several roots that have come to the top of the soil from several different trees. I am wondering if I just cut the roots that are exposed would this kill the tree or would the remaining roots be enough to nourish the trees. It looks like there is about one root per tree that is heading towards my back patio slab.

I went online to try to find someone who specializes in tree roots to see if I could get them to come out for an inspection but all I could find were tree removers, so I KNOW what they would say...
Old 04-08-08, 08:30 PM
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I've cut out roots on my tree w/out problem but it is 3' in dia.
Old 04-09-08, 02:54 AM
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Good morning and welcome to the DIY forums!

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about the roots that will not harm the tree. You could add soil between the roots, then plants (like hosta) and mulch a wide circle.

Certain tress are worse about above-ground roots than others.
Maples, particularly silver maples are the most prominent. Almost any tree will have root rising if the circumstances are right...Too much water
Not enough water
Soil compaction.

You may cut the roots and not notice any decline for a few years, but it is not a good idea to cut the roots if you want to maintain a healthy tree.
Old 04-09-08, 03:22 AM
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In North America people have this notion that just anybody can cut grass without any know-how. Well, in Japan people feel that anybody can prune a tree, and you're even neglecting the yard if you don't cut some limbs from time to time. While living in these neighbourhoods I saw many trees direly hacked and even bound with ropes, yet, strangely, very few unhealthy trees.

That said, roots are less expendable than limbs. Size & species of trees? Then how thick are the roots and how near are they to the trunk?
Old 04-23-08, 01:21 AM
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Well, since my aunt - lives in England - had the same problem and simply asked her london florist for advice, I would recommend that you ask a local gardener or flower shop if they can help you with that.

Last edited by mattison; 04-23-08 at 05:16 AM. Reason: Weblink removed.
Old 04-23-08, 05:13 AM
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Simply cutting the roots will likely kill the tree in the long run. Some trees naturally have roots at the surface. You can fill these area with mulch, if it suits.

If the roots appear to be a threat to your patio, then you could trench a section between the trees and the slab and install a barrier to physically stop the growth of the roots.

Although they are commonly employed by tree services, an arborist is the professional to discuss tree management.
Old 04-23-08, 08:13 AM
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Root barriers

Cutting roots places tree at risk for injury, decline, or death. Cutting larger roots closer to tree increases risk of injury.

There is a formula that is used as a general rule of thumb for how far you need to stay away from the trunk if pruning a root. Measure the diameter of the trunk, in inches, at a point 4-1/2 ft. above the ground. Then multiply that number by 6. The resulting figure reflects the minimum distance that you need to keep away from the trunk.

Thus, whether or not you can prune the roots heading toward the patio will depend on how far away the tree is. But, what many fail to realize is that when a root is pruned that it actually stimulates the root to grow many off shoots at the sight of the cut, and growth comes back quickly and profusely. We encounter this in the forums where folks rotor root the roots in septic lines. They just keep coming back. So, pruning the roots will not stop encroachment to patio.

See illustration:

So what to do about the tree roots encroaching on patio while you sleep? You install root barriers to protect your property.

It is recommended that for new landscaping plans that root barriers be installed when trees are planted to prevent root damage to sidewalks, patios, foundations. While the initial investment may be high, costs to repair damage can be far more.

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