The Q&A Archives: Root System For A October Glory Maple.

Question: I just planted a October glory maple.can you tell me if the root system is shallow or deep? I had trouble with roots coming out of the ground on another tree at a different location. I wanted to be sure and do what I could to avoid this problem. Thank you for your help.


As with any large tree, this maple has a series of roots reaching outward from the trunk. Anchoring roots hold it firmly in place and then the smaller feeder roots soak up moisture and nutrients. These are the roots most likely to be seen near the surface. Tree roots typically range way beyond the branch spread, sometimes as far as twice as wide.

This tree, in contrast to the silver maple and white birch for example, does not make that truly dense almost impenetrable surface network of fine roots. It does however compete somewhat with plants within its canopy area -- lawn grasses, perennials, shrubs and so on would all have to compete with the tree for light, water, and nutrients.

You can take steps over time to plant appropriately below the tree, using undemanding groundcovers other than lawn and even perhaps taking advantage of the shady area for a permeable patio of stepstones or gravel and add large planters for colorful annuals.

Since this root span is a natural aspect of tree growth, there really isn't too much you can do to prevent the root formation. Without good roots, the tree will not thrive.

Generally speaking, tree roots will exploit weaknesses that already exist in a pipe or foundation underground and can work their way into a small gap and enlarge it over time. The roots would not usually cause the initial damage.

Tree roots (or the expanding trunk flare) may lift sidewalks and so on as the tree grows, so sometimes using a flexible paving to allow the roots to shift below ground is a workable solution to that problem.

In the long run however it is best to plant a tree with a mature size that is suited to the available space rather than try to cope with an overly large tree in the wrong place.

Good luck with your tree!

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