The Q&A Archives: Covering Old Swamp Maple Roots

Question: I have near my house a large swamp maple. I want to improve drainage near my house by packing dirt near the house. This would also involve covering the exposed roots of the maple. These roots form an extensive network reaching out about 15 to 20 feet from the main trunk which is about four feet in diameter.

My question is: Will covering these roots harm the tree??

Answer: To be honest, it is very difficult to answer your question with any certainty. In general it is not a good idea to interfere with tree roots, and filling over top of them or making changes to drainage patterns in particular can definitely kill a tree. However, some trees can withstand a certain amount of damage and survive. To assess your particular tree's chances, you might wish to bring in a professional arborist for an on site consultation, as well as a landscape architect, engineer or other professional to assess the drainage problem and possible solutions in view of both the tree and the house.

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