The Q&A Archives: Large Tree Roots

Question: I have a 25 ft blue spruce and a 35+ ft fir (I think); both have enormous roots running through my front yard towards the house. How can I remedy this situation? It's hard on the mower and makes for a very even yard! I'm also concerned about the roots cracking the foundation of the house and/or plumbing and therefor causing leaks.

Answer: Roots appear on the surface of the soil as they grow in diameter, forcing what was a thin, shallow root above the surface. They also surface as erosion washes away soil, exposing the roots. You can't remove the roots without compromising the health of the tree(s) and you shouldn't fill in over the tops of the roots with topsoil because that could suffocate the roots. What you might try is adding topsoil to the lower areas between the roots to make the soil surface a little more level and make mowing easier. Eventually your lawn will stop growing in the area because of shade and competition for moisture and nutrients from the tree roots. At that time you might want to think about planting a groundcover, to both disguise the surface roots and so you won't need to mow in the area. As for the roots possibly invading your foundation, you might want to start now digging down to sever any roots that might be creeping toward the foundation. I'd start about 6' from the foundation and dig down at least 12" - 18". It's easier to sever roots when they are small. You'll only need to dig down every 3-4 years to check the status and make sure roots are not breaching the "non-root zone". Best wishes with your landscape.

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