Cutting tree roots in a yard several feet from tree...yes, no?

Asked August 7, 2018, 2:08 PM EDT

Hi there,

We have a couple of maple trees that have spawned big tree roots into the nearby yard area. There is a sidewalk between the tree in the median and our yard. I am concerned about the roots eventually reaching our driveway which is brand new and also for mowing. They are kind of high compared to the surface of the grass. Attached are a few pictures to show how they have encroached into the yard. Is it safe to cut the roots from the yard or would that eventually kill the tree? I'm open to the bare facts if you're able to determine the safety of cutting the roots, thank you.

Dreux DeMack

Adams County Colorado

1 Response

Hi Dreux,

We recommend avoiding cutting tree roots whenever possible. Trees need a healthy root system to both collect water and nutrients, as well as remain anchored to the ground. Trees often spread their roots into the top of the soil if they are lacking nutrients further down. A fact sheet on healthy root systems, and how to manage them, can be found here: http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/healthy-roots-and-healthy-trees-2-926/. You can also review our fact sheet on mulching, which can be an option instead of mowing over your roots. http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/mulches-for-home-grounds-7-214/

Let us know if you have any other questions!