How to Fix Exposed Tree Roots

A healthy root system is vital to the growth and longevity of all types of plants, including trees. In addition to the intake of air, water, and nutrients through the soil, tree roots also help to anchor the plant in place and they will continue to spread laterally below the ground as the tree matures. While most roots typically lie between 12 to 18 inches below the surface of the soil, a number of factors may contribute to exposed tree roots which can pose a risk to your lawn equipment or become a trip hazard. Read on to learn how to fix exposed tree roots to eliminate these pitfalls, from the experts who care at The Grounds Guys®.

What Causes Exposed Tree Roots?

Exposed tree roots give the illusion that they have burst through the soil when in reality it is far more likely that the soil that once covered them has worn away. Deep root feeding can help to reduce erosion and promote a healthy root system and should be considered as a preventive measure. Common causes of root exposure include:

  • Lack of structure – Trees that have a large canopy provide a shady spot to rest, but may also block the sun from reaching the grass at the base of the trunk. Once the grass has died and there is nothing to anchor the soil, it may continue to erode until the roots are exposed.
  • Heavy traffic – Foot traffic may compact or wear away the soil to reveal the roots below.
  • Erosion – Wind, rain, and runoff may contribute to the lack of soil in both sloped and flat areas.
  • Space restrictions – In urban areas where trees may be planted next to a roadway or sidewalk, tree roots may be forced upwards due to a lack of space.
  • Poor soil – Compacted or clay-based soil can restrict the flow of oxygen and moisture, forcing the roots to head above ground in order for the tree to survive.

How to Fix Exposed Tree Roots: Do’s and Don’ts

In an effort to reverse the effects of erosion you may be tempted to add more soil around the base of the tree, covering up the exposed roots. While this solution may provide temporary relief it can cause further damage over time by suffocating the roots or failing to resolve the underlying issue. Additional options include:

Don’t: Remove Exposed Tree Root

Cutting or pruning tree roots is a risky venture that can injure or kill the tree if done incorrectly. In addition to depriving the tree of nutrients and water, pruning may render the tree unstable causing it to fall over in a storm.

Don’t: Grow New Grass

While it is possible to cultivate a new layer of grass, it can take time to become established. If a lack of sunlight is the issue the new grass may also die and the roots may soon reappear.

Do: Add a Layer of Mulch

This is the preferred option and is also the easiest. Carefully remove the remaining grass around the base of the tree and replace it with a thick layer of mulch which will cushion and insulate the roots, discourage pedestrian traffic, and eliminate the need for mowing.

Exposed tree roots aren't the only safety hazard in and around the home. Find other ways to keep your home safe and secure with these tips from Mr. Handyman®. For help with removing exposed tree roots and all your other landscaping needs, call The Grounds Guys at (888) 972-8063 or contact us online to request an estimate today.

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