The Q&A Archives: Birch tree roots

Question: We are having a pool put in and some large boulders were set back in around the birch trees. They cut the roots on the middle tree back to within about 1-2 feet of the tree. Will this damage the tree? And should I add more dirt/fertilizer around the tree?
Thank You,
Kim Cellini

Answer: Root removal can be a risky thing and the amount of stress will depend upon the size and quantity of roots removed. Young trees will usually replace severed roots without becoming too stressed. Mature trees, with large roots can go into a decline, which will begin to show up as dead branches on the side of the tree where the roots were removed. Only time will tell. As long as the cuts were clean and not ragged, the tree should heal over the wounds. The faster they heal, the less chance for insect or disease problems to develop. Don't add more soil over the surface (changing the grade over the tree roots can actually suffocate the roots), but do cover any roots that were uncovered during the pruning process. It's too late in the season to fertilize your tree, but you might want to fertilize in the spring, when new growth begins. Let's hope for the best. Enjoy your new landscape!

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