Tree Roots

tom_nwnj(z6 NJ)April 25, 2008

Hi I have a few trees (a weeping cherry in the front, and a fire cherry behind it) that have some roots above ground. The roots are getting larger. I don't really mind seeing them, but they are getting some damage (from the mower, etc.)

Can I just bury them with dirt? Or would that harm the tree?

What is the solution?


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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

What's harming the tree is hitting them with the mower. Do raise the grade to cover them with soil. Looks like you have other low places nearby in the lawn, so it may be time to raise the grade elsewhere in the vicinity as well. For a pleasant effect you will want to end up with a gentle contour rather than trees on mounds of grass.

You also make grass-free circles around each tree but then they would look like they were in sockets. Better-looking to either have them continue to be growing with grass up to their trunks, or to create a bed large enough to encompass both of them together.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 11:32AM
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tom_nwnj(z6 NJ)

The reason why I ask about burying roots is because I know that builders sometimes back fill around trees, during new construction. Of course, that is burying a tree under several feet of dirt. I think that will kill a tree.

I am looking to bury a tree under several inches of dirt (less than 6). I just want to be sure that won't hurt the tree.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 12:35PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

6 inches of mulch is more than enough to cause potential problems. Why not, as bboy says, simply incorporate both of your nice trees into one large mulched area, and eliminate the need for mowing entirely.

I'd make strive for a free-form could even naturalize some bulbs, etc., in the area.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 3:19PM
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tom_nwnj(z6 NJ)

OK, thanks for the idea, but there are several other trees in this area, including a japanese maple. I think my pictures are bad, not proper context.

I already used up 12 yards of mulch this season. If I increase that, I'd have to consider buying tractor with a scoop.

Today, I am after a quick fix. If there is no proper quick fix for the elevated roots, I would like to know that.

Thanks for all the help!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 4:04PM
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You are correct that filling around and over tree roots is harmful to the trees. If at all possible, try to use mulch to solve this problem. Another thought-could you mow around the exposed roots and then carefully trim the grass in their immediate vicinity with a string trimmer, without hitting the root bark? I know, just what you need, more work;^)


    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 4:29PM
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tom_nwnj(z6 NJ)

thanks for the suggestion wisc.tom. Unfortunately it's not me that hits the roots with the mower, it's the DW.

And I offer to cut that part around the house, but she always says she needs the exercise.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 4:57PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

make a large bed ... roundup grass.. add 3 or 4 inches of mulch.... by next year... you will have fluffy soil.. and a new garden to plant some hosta .. or other shade loving plants ...

no quick fix...

the roots are going to re-emerge from any added soil ... i doubt... contrary to the learned suggestions.. that adding soil near these roots will harm the trees ... its not like you are going to add 12 inches of soil around the entire perimeter of the tree .... but i do a lot of things the learned ones say cant be done ... but i dont use heavy equipment.. which will cause more harm than the soil added ... anyway ...

if you just make little berms around just the bad roots.. its going to look like some gopher or mole on steroids ruined your lawn ...

you seem to have an extensive lawn .. i find it hard to believe that you are fixated on these couple of roots ... but hey .. been there for sure ... lol

the easiest solution may be to just roundup for 6 inches on each side of the root..avoiding any open wounds... so that you dont have to get that close to them when mowing .. add a couple minutes of time to the mowing .... but then you wont be harming the mower nor the tree ...

good luck


PS: the easiest fix.. might be to move the darn bench.. so you arent looking at them all the time .... lol ...

PPS: even better .... install a hammock between the two trees .. lay down ..... and gaze up into the trees.. instead of down at the ground .... lol .... think outside the box .... short of destroying the trees... you are never going to make the roots disappear ...

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 5:03PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

I would not bury them in either dirt or mulch. However, can you carefully add dirt at the edges of the roots, and make the level in THAT vicinity higher, say to the tops of, or a little over, the roots? The soil could be sown with a shade-grass-seed, and then would blend in with the rest of the lawn.

It would mean a bit of work, but it would make the roots more even/level with the lawn, and should end the lawn mower blades hitting the tops of the roots. And in some areas, you might have to go out quite far from the roots in order to blend the levels nicely, which might entail a fair bit of topsoil. And having done it, I don't think you would need to repeat the procedure for a number of years, if ever.

As long as you are careful to leave the root-flare and the trunk at the present ground level the roots should be good to grow - you might have to get a little creative in some spots, and maybe leave more root exposed - could you find a few large rocks to strategically place there so the mower goes around, but the roots aren't hit? Yes, I know, more work.....

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 5:03PM
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