The Q&A Archives: tree roots

Question: I have tree roots above the ground in my front yard. Also, the yard is not smoothly even. I would like to either reseed the yard or put in new sod and a front sidewalk. What do I need to do about the tree roots.

Answer: Some trees develop more surface roots than others, and it sounds as though your tree is really taking over the yard. If you want to preserve the tree's health you should not add and soil to cover up the roots and to smooth out the surface of the soil. This can cause the roots to rot if the soil remains too wet for too long a period and it can actually suffocate the roots. Instead of trying to even out the area and grow grass, why not plant a groundcover to hide the roots? Grass won't grow well under the shade of a tree, but shade loving groundcovers will. Some groundcovers are short enough to walk on without tripping and others are viney and difficult to walk upon. Vinca, pachysandra, and even dwarf mondo grass will grow beneath your tree. The best part is that they won't need mowing. Best wishes with your landscape.

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