The Grounds Guys
Large tree in front yard of a residential home.

Why Adding More Soil to Exposed Tree Roots Is Not a Good Idea

If you have exposed tree roots on your property, you might be tempted to cut them or cover them with more dirt. However, doing either one of these things can create as even bigger problem for the tree, and you.

In this article we’ll explain why you should never cut exposed tree roots or add more soil on top of them. Doing either could cause severe harm to your tree. We’ll also review some ways to fix exposed tree roots without cutting or covering them.

We’ll start with the reasons why cutting exposed tree roots and/or covering them is not good for the health of your tree.

Dangers of Cutting Roots

Reasons why cutting exposed tree roots can cause a problem:

  • Damage the tree: If you cut your exposed tree roots, you could injure your tree – causing the tree to become unhealthy. An unhealthy tree on your property is a cause for concern – as it could result in property damage, injury, or even death. If you suspect a tree on your property has been damaged – or worse, is dying, contact a professional arborist to access the health.
  • Kill the tree: Cutting an exposed tree root can cause enough damage to kill the tree. Since you can’t gauge what the root system looks like underground – you may be cutting a primary root that supply nutrients to the tree. If this is the case, the chances of the tree surviving will be greatly diminished.
  • Hurts tree stability: An unstable tree is a danger to people and property. Just like an injured tree – an unstable tree can cause significant property damage, result in injuries, or death. This is especially true in regions that experience extreme weather patterns (which is why it is essential to prune your trees regularly).
  • Deprives tree of nutrients: The root you cut may be a major source of nutrients and water for the tree. Cutting the exposed root will cut off this vital flow of nutrients and water to the main part of the tree, which will eventually cause it to become sick, unstable, and unsafe.

Problems with Adding More Soil

Adding more soil is not a solution either. Doing so will:

  • Ignore underlying problems: Tree roots are designed to spread under the surface of the soil. So, if you have exposed tree roots on your property, it could be a sign of a more significant issue – such as soil erosion.
  • Deprives trees of nutrients: Covering your exposed tree roots with soil can prevent the roots from receiving the proper amount of oxygen (yes, tree roots do need oxygen). This may be the very reason the roots came to the surface in the first place.

How to Deal with Exposed Tree Roots

Now that you know why cutting or covering exposed tree roots can be bad for the tree, here are some things you can do with exposed tree roots:

  • Cover Roots with Mulch or Compost: Since mulch is not as dense or heavy as soil, you can place mulch over exposed roots without suffocating the root. You can also use a different ground cover over the exposed root(s). Compost is another option because it is lighter and has more pore space which allows for oxygen to penetrate deeper into the soil. This provides medium for planting groundcover like Pachysandra, Vinca Minor, Ivy and Jasmine. Just make sure the ground cover you choose is not so dense that it smothers the root.
  • Limit Access to the Area: Another option is to cutoff or limit access to the area of the exposed root(s). This will help reduce the risk of the root being damaged, or a someone tripping over it.
  • Add foliage: Depending the where the exposed root(s) are located on your property, another option is to add some plants or shrubs near and around the area. This will discourage foot traffic and should help conceal the exposed root(s) for view. However, be sure to avoid using plants that attract deer as this could create additional issues for you.

Call the Pros for Advice

Dealing with exposed tree roots may seem like an easy fix. However, depending on the size and age of the tree, exposed roots can create a real problem for homeowners. Fortunately, your local landscape pros at The Grounds Guys can get to the root of your tree problem quickly and solve it with expert service and advice. Our team of experienced landscape professionals have helped thousands of homeowners keep their lawns and landscaping looking its absolute best all year long. So, whether it’s an exposed tree root or lawn care service and maintenance, The Grounds Guys are ready to help. To learn more, or to request an estimate, contact us today!