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Exposed Tree Roots

Posted by dorisl 5 NW Chicago burbs (My Page) on
Thu, May 22, 08 at 8:39

Many of trees have exposed tree roots that are pretty beat up by the lawnmower. Ive read that this means the soil is too shallow and also read that you cant put soil (or mulch) on top of them, because the roots will suffocate and the tree will die. This seems like an extreme opinion, because tree roots go deep. So the exposed tree roots arent their only means of getting nutrition.

What comments to you guys have?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Exposed Tree Roots

Putting soil over the roots of established trees is a risk. Yes, tree roots also go deep, but believe it or not, if enough soil is put over tree roots, it will smother the tree.

But does that mean you can't put any soil over the roots of established trees--no. If you put a little over a part of the area it can be OK, and you need to use a light textured soi that is sandy and has a lot of organic matter in it--and one without much clay in it.

If you can describe your problem more fully, and include pictures, maybe we can give you some more specific advice.


RE: Exposed Tree Roots

All of the non-woody, fibrous roots of tree species are very shallow. It is this part of the root system that absorbs water and dissolved minerals. SOME species have deep anchor roots that are purely structural, but most do not and rely on this shallow mat of a root system for support as well. That's why we need to be so careful about protecting the first 12 inches of soil from compaction, filling, etc.

Too, some tree species develop large woody surface roots in any kind of soil. It's just what they do. Do you know what kind of tree you have?

As an aside...when I lived in coastal SC, I did lots of work with old live oaks. Even growing in the predominately sandy soils in that area, I rarely saw roots develop any deeper than 6 inches. It was so interesting.

Here is a link that might be useful: Here's some good information for you

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