Tree roots coming up

Asked March 15, 2015, 11:12 AM EDT

We have an established tree in our front yard that is at least 15 years old. The roots are beginning to show right around the base and trunk of the tree. What can/should we do? It is a pretty significant amount of roots showing.

Kenton County Kentucky

1 Response

Once the roots appear on the surface, there is little that can be done to remedy the situation, without substantially damaging the tree. You can prune off the visible roots, but the damage to the cut roots and the fine feeder roots surrounding the area can harm or even kill the tree. Pruning the roots should be confined to situations where the roots are breaking up sidewalks or driveways.

Some homeowners have tried a temporary solution by applying a shallow, 1-inch layer of good-quality soil mix and then replanting the grass. However, it isn't long before roots will reappear as they continue to grow in girth. A more permanent solution would be to replant the affected surface area with a taller ground-cover type plant that will not need mowing.

The best remedy for surface roots is to choose the proper plants for the situation. But if you already have a large, old tree with surface roots that you don't want to lose, you may just have to learn to accept its intrusion into the lawn.

If I can help further, feel free to call.

Dan Allen