The Q&A Archives: To cover or not to cover tree roots protruding form ground

Question: We have 2 twenty year old elm trees. They are thriving now but their roots have heaved up out of the ground at the base of the tree. Should we cover these roots with dirt? Could we put a raised bed around the trees and plant flowers? Mary Long Optima, OK

Answer: You shouldn't cover the roots of your elm trees. Covering the roots with soil could potentially kill the trees by suffocating the roots. Consider planting a groundcover around the open spots between the roots or placing potted plants there. If your elms are on the way out anyway, it is okay to create a raised bed and plant flowers.

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