Two maple questions

chisey(TN)April 23, 2013

I have two maples with separate concerns.

First, in the front yard, I have a maple with what appears to be a girdling root (see first two pics below). I actually can't tell where it's coming from exactly and would have to do a little digging to see which end is attached to the tree. I'm assuming I need to take care of this before it becomes a problem with the trunk (probably not long from now). Any advice? Should I just figure out where it's coming from and remove it as close to the tree as possible with a saw or loppers?

Next, I have a second maple in the front of the side yard (see two pics below). It has surface roots that have gotten much worse in the last year (as much as 1.5" above the ground), but at present they seem mainly to be headed toward the neighbor's yard. That is bad enough, but I'm more concerned about it eventually cracking my driveway, which is only ~5 feet from the tree. I don't see roots on that side yet but that doesn't mean they aren't coming.

I am thinking I need to take this one down in the Fall and replace it with a smaller tree that has less potential for problems with surface roots than maples do (a dogwood or flowering cherry, perhaps). I'll also plant closer to the road and make the whole area a bed if and when I do that. Any thoughts? Would you agree that the surface roots for this tree will eventually be a problem for my driveway (they already are for my neighbor)?

Thanks very much.

This post was edited by chisey on Tue, Apr 23, 13 at 11:05

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Would you agree that the surface roots for this tree will eventually be a problem for my driveway

==>> thats the story of maples ... all their roots are within the first foot of soil ...

as to how many decades before it impacts cement.. who knows ... might be 50 years or so ....

BTW .. gorgeous lawn... irrigated??.. i bet.. and i bet that is why the maple isnt going ot bother to put roots deep ... lawn irrigation is NOT proper for growing trees .... lots of water.. applied to the first inch of soil ...

as to the first.. i would just snip it where it comes out of the ground.. on the two ends... and be done with it..... and as a maple.. i would NOT spend one more second worrying about the tree itself ...

you might want to pull bgck the soil at the trunk.. and see if any others are the wheels on the bus.. going round and round ....

that could be a typical root flare.. or it could be strangling itself a few inches down ...

you are welcome


    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 12:04PM
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Thanks very much Ken. Re: the lawn, that's actually the crappier part I take less care of, and it does not get irrigated (though it was overseeded in the Fall).

Below is the main part of the front yard, which actually will be irrigated this summer (it is my hobby, though the TN summers have not been kind in the two years I've been in this house). The maple in this part (with the girdling root) has some surface roots as well but is not close enough to anything that I am worried about damage

Thanks for your advice! I will cut that root away without hesitation and do some prodding around to make sure it's the only one.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 12:42PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

I agree with Ken. take a section out the root of the first tree. I've had to do this a couple of times. Both look like red-silver maple hybrids (Autumn Blaze most likely), and as such will be prone to surface roots unless aerated soil is very deep. And yes the tree in your last photo may very well be too close to your drive. I'm sure the roots have already made it to it. One thing most people do not know is that concrete drive will attract water to the underside of it, and as such will ALWAYS be damp underneath (this from a Civil Engineer friend that did his Master's degree research on concrete). Once the tree roots find it, they will go after the water. So you might be wise to move or replace. Could also make a thin saw cut every year or two, to a depth of a foot or so along side the drive to make sure it's not damaged.

Lastly, if that is one of the hybrid freemani maples, it will begin to choke out your lawn in a few years.

If you decide to replace, then people here will gladly help you with the choice. SOME Maples would be fine, many Oaks, and a slew of other possibilities.


This post was edited by arktrees on Tue, Apr 23, 13 at 14:35

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 1:30PM
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I agree with above. Wrt to maples, because of the way lawns are irrigated in cities, maples in cultivation make more surface roots. For the tree, it is a feature, not a bug.

As far as the driveway goes, you have plenty of time. Something your kids will worry about.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 1:41PM
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Great info, all. Thank you. As for having plenty of time WRT driveway issues, I'd rather nip it in the bud now and save myself (or the next owner) any potential trouble. It will also give me the opportunity to place a tree (or two, even) where I actually want it.

Should I expect dogwoods or kwanzan cherries to be less prone to surface roots than maples? I know any tree can have surface roots but some are more prone than others. Those two are possible replacements.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 3:18PM
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Cher(6 SW OH)

Remove the Maple. One did in fact crack my driveway about 12 foot away and crack a sidewalk panel the other side also about 12 foot away. Just had to replace all the concrete over a year ago. They were originally planted by the builders here years ago and most all of the neighbors have cracked driveways. Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 4:55PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

maples = 60 feet or better ..

your other two = 20 feet or so...

no comparison as to 'potential' ...

where are my pix of maple roots.. oh, i know ... see below ..


ps: this is a silver maple

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 6:11PM
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Cherries are known for having surface root issues.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 6:43PM
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Cherries are known for having surface root issues.

Good to know! I was leaning toward dogwoods anyway. I'm sure when the time comes I will be back here asking questions about dogwoods.

Thanks again to all. You are an invaluable resource.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 9:06AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Try Shantung maple instead. ;-)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 9:13AM
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