The Q&A Archives: Tree Roots Surfacing

Question: My neighbor has a huge tree, and the roots have been surfacing in the dirt/garden area of our backyard. If I cut the roots at or just below the surface, will that prevent them from growing any more without damaging the tree?

Answer: It really depends upon how far away the tree is from your yard compared to the surfacing roots. If the tree is quite close to your property line and the roots are large, cutting them back could compromise the tree's health. On the other hand, if the tree is quite far away and the canopy does not hang over the property line, it's probably okay to cut through the roots. Generally, you can cut through roots to stop them from encroaching, and the tree will simply develop roots in different places. You might want to dig a trench along the property line and set a root barrier at that point so you won't have to contend with additional roots in the coming years.

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