The Q&A Archives: Soil Depth Over Tree Roots

Question: What depth of soil is safe to add under a mature sugar maple tree in order to create a planting bed? Some of the trees roots seem to be close to the existing soil surface.

Answer: In general, it is not a good idea to add soil over top of tree roots because it can smother and even kill some of the more sensitive trees. Unfortunately, maple roots are famous for their agressiveness and they will quickly resurface and cause the same problem all over again, so adding soil will not help in the long run. You may want to try planting a ground cover such as English ivy or periwinkle (Vinca minor) in pockets of improved soil between the roots and then use large containers for color.

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