When imagining trees, most of us think of their benefits: shade for our yards, beauty for our landscapes, and habitats for birds. However, as trees grow larger, they sometimes pose problems. 

If you have mature trees, you may have noticed exposed roots. Left unchecked, these can crack sidewalks, ruin your lawnmower, and pose trip hazards. Above-ground roots can even hurt your trees, exposing them to damage and disease.

Here, the experts at ArborZone, New Braunfels’ best tree service specialist, discuss what to do with tree roots above ground. 

Why Do Tree Roots Grow Above Ground?

Before discussing what to do with tree roots above ground, let’s discuss how they get that way. Trees depend on their roots for water, essential nutrients, and oxygen. They will grow just about anywhere they need to find these necessities. 

Urban and suburban environments restrict the natural growth of trees. If a building, fence, or street stops roots from growing in one direction, they may turn upward. In addition, rain, runoff, wind, and foot traffic can cause soil erosion, leaving tree roots exposed.

As trees grow, their roots naturally tend to get thicker, which can also cause them to break the surface. Certain tree species — like maples, poplars, and willows — are more likely to have exposed roots because of their shallow root systems. 

What Should I Not Do With Exposed Tree Roots?

You may be tempted to try a quick fix when dealing with above-ground tree roots. However, some tree root management solutions do more harm than good.

Most tree specialists caution against doing the following:

  • Concealing tree roots above ground with a heavy layer of dirt. Too much soil can suffocate the roots.
  • Cutting off visible tree roots. Excessive pruning can injure or even kill the tree. An experienced arborist may be able to help you remove some roots.
  • Planting more grass. Grass may compete with the tree for water and nutrients, worsening the problem. Plus, if you use a mower to cut your lawn, you risk damaging the roots further.

What Are Some Solutions for Raised Tree Roots?

So, what can you do to solve the problem? Here are some suggestions:

  • Apply a thin layer of mulch. A mulch of shredded bark or chipped wood (not touching the trunk) is probably best for managing exposed tree roots. It cushions the roots, conceals them from view, and preserves moisture. 
  • Fix compacted soil. Tree roots often grow upward in search of air, water, and nutrition. Loosening compacted soil with core aeration or an AirSpade allows these essentials to reach the roots more easily.
  • Add ground cover. A good method for addressing visible tree roots is to plant ground cover that doesn’t require mowing. This can hide the roots while discouraging foot traffic.

Need More Tree Advice? Contact ArborZone

Whether you have more questions about what to do with tree roots above ground or are wondering whether dead branches hurt a tree, ArborZone can help. Call us at (210) 305-8400 for all your tree care needs in New Braunfels, TX, and beyond.

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