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What to Do When Tree Roots Become an Issue 

What to Do When Tree Roots Become an Issue 

Tree roots are often a mere 12-inches below ground, which means they could potentially be forced to the surface. This can compromise the overall condition and health of the tree so keep an eye out for exposed roots near trees in your landscape. Wondering why the roots are exposed? Typically, there are three main reasons:

  • Run-off and rain. 
  • Crowding with other foliage or vegetation.
  • Excessive foot traffic.   

Are tree roots an issue for you? Here’s what to do:


Add plenty of matter.

Create an organic matter that you can spread evenly a couple inches over the soil. Usually things like wood chips, shredded wood, or dried leaves will work well.

Mulch some more.

Add a good quality mulch over the matter and be generous; spread it as far as the exposed roots go, even if it covers up yard or garden space. In actuality, it is healthier for the tree if the surrounding area is mulch rather than grass or sod. 

Tread carefully.

Whether you notice exposed roots or not, keep a watchful eye and tread carefully. Use care when operating lawn mowers, trimmers, or weed whackers near your trees. You don’t want to accidentally cut or damage the roots, which will impact how the tree absorbs nutrients and thrives.

Keep your distance from trunks.

While it does make sense to mulch liberally, after all, mulch helps retain moisture and insulates the roots, keep a few inches away from the trunk of the tree. Mulch that is tight against the trunk can cause rot; leave some room for air-flow and try to even the mulch out in a thick layer.

Don’t bury them.

The one thing that you do not want to do is to attempt to bury the roots with dirt, fill, or soil. Packing the soil in and around the roots, impacts how the roots absorb oxygen, which contributes to their health and hardiness. Steer clear of the root system as much as you can and protect with a quality mulch, like pine or cedar; treat the roots gingerly and your tree will thrive and grow.

Do what you can to cushion and insulate the roots of your beloved trees. Try to discourage foot-traffic by highlighting other routes around your property with paths or stepping stones. Be aware: maples are most prone to exposed roots and are widely popular in the Lowcountry. Start with a load of quality mulch.

Need some help protecting the roots of your trees? Contact Carolina Services Grounds Division, a division of Carolina Services Inc, a Commercial Landscaping and Ground Services Company in Charleston, SC. Protect and preserve the root system of your tree to ensure health and growth for years to come.