Fix Exposed Tree Roots

How to Fix Exposed Tree Roots – A Brief Guide

Jan 13, 2023

Exposed tree roots can be problematic in varying ways. They can ruin the landscape’s aesthetic appeal or even damage concrete driveways and other infrastructure. Many people don’t know what to do about it, and the first question that comes to most people’s minds is, “Can you shave down exposed tree roots?”

Cutting off exposed tree roots isn’t the answer – it can result in infection and other complications. There are easier solutions that are safer for the trees. Here is a brief guide for fixing exposed tree roots.

Why Do Tree Roots Come to the Surface?

Tree roots grow upwards and break through the surface for various reasons, including the following:

  • Soil Erosion

Soil erosion happens when the top layer of soil breaks down. It usually happens gradually because of harsh weather or other natural causes. Over time, enough soil can erode to expose shallow roots.

  • Soil Compaction

Soil compaction occurs when soil particles become packed tightly together, limiting pore space. The limited pore space cannot hold enough moisture and nutrients, making compacted soil unsuitable for growth. Tree roots tend to grow downwards or upwards when they come across compacted soil.

  • Natural Growth

Some tree species tend to grow exposed roots naturally. Some species prone to surface roots include maple, pin oak, willow oak, sycamore, black walnut, and lindens. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about these trees’ exposed roots, as they need root exposure to grow healthy.

What Do You Do if the Tree Has Exposed Roots?

Before deciding what to do, you should first ask yourself, “Are exposed tree roots bad?” Root exposure isn’t always bad – as mentioned, some tree species need to expose their roots for healthy growth. However, you should do something about problematic exposed roots.

Here are three potential solutions if the exposed tree roots pose a problem:

1. Soil Replacement

Soil replacement is the recommended solution for exposed tree roots due to soil erosion. The solution is simple: add new soil to cover up the exposed roots. However, soil replacement isn’t recommendable for trees with naturally exposed roots – covering the roots using soil can suffocate the tree, stunting its growth and killing it slowly.

2. Mulching

Mulching can help reduce the inconvenience caused by exposed trees in two ways. First, the mulch will reduce foot traffic and eliminate the need for mowing around the exposed roots. Second, the mulch will insulate and nourish the exposed roots, ensuring the tree grows healthy. Mulching can help reverse exposed roots in the case of compacted soil – nutrients from the mulch will seep deep into the compacted soil, redirecting the roots’ growth downwards.

It is advisable to remove the grass around the trees’ base and exposed roots before applying mulch. It is also recommended to start mulching as soon as the exposed roots appear.

3. Planting

Planting ground cover, such as grass and shrubs, can help reduce and avoid soil erosion, preventing tree root exposure in the first place. Planting ground cover can also help conceal the exposed roots. Shrubs are preferable to grass because they don’t require mowing and can give the appearance of a root garden.

Seek Professional Help!

Fixing exposed tree roots is easier said than done. It takes a long time, and may seem as if you are doing something wrong. However, if you consult a professional tree service in your area, you don’t have to worry. We are a professional tree service provider, and we can help solve root exposure as well as many other tree-related issues. Get in touch today to learn how we can help!

Do Your Trees Need Some Attention?

certified arborist isa
md certified tree expert