The Q&A Archives: Planting Grass Over Exposed Tree Roots

Question: I have several Maple trees and their roots are showing above ground. I wanted to put dirt over these ugly roots and plant grass seed but I've heard this can kill the tree if you cover up the roots. Is there any truth to this?

Answer: Yes. Some trees such as oaks and dogwoods are extremely sensitive to changes in soil depth. Some maple varieties naturally produce surface roots and the roots will move up through new soil, so adding it won't help in the long run. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to grow lawn under these trees due to the root problem plus the fact that the tree steals water and nutrients from the soil as well as blocks the sunlight needed for a healthy lawn. You might consider a groundcover such as English ivy or periwinkle instead.

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