Norway maple surface roots

Asked June 1, 2015, 10:23 AM EDT

Will a norway maple, trunk diameter 18 inches, be harmed if the surface roots, 1-3 in. in diameter, are severed and left to rot? The roots have erupted through the lawn over many years making it difficult to mow and they are snaking toward the foundation of the house. I am guessing if I raise the soil level to cover them they will continue to push up, but I don't know. Thank you

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

It is common for norway maple roots to come to the surface of the soil as they are searching for oxygen and moisture. Cutting or damage to the root system can affect the tree months or even year later depending upon environmental stresses.
If you add additional soil over the root system, three inches of soil is the maximum depth that can be added and no soil should touch the trunk. You can mulch under the tree with no more than three inches of mulch. This will help keep weeds down, retain moisture, and prevent any lawn mower damage to the trunk. Keep the mulch away from the trunk.