Exposed Tree Roots - Knowledgebase Question

Hillsborough, NJ
Question by JGIANGARRA
April 27, 2001
WE HAVE A FRUITLESS PARE TREE, A WILLOW, A WHITE PINE AND SEVERAL ASHES ON OUR PROPERTY.
EACH YEAR THE ROOTS ARE BECOMING MORE AND MORE EXPOSED. LARGE SURFACE ROOTS COMING UP THROUGH THE LAWN. SOME ONE SAID IT WAS FROM FERTILIZING AND WATERING THE LAWN AND THAT IT WAS EASIER FOR THE ROOTS TO COME UP FOR FOOD AND WATER RATHER THAN GO DOWN THROUGH THE HARD CLAY.

WE HAVE A SPRINKLER SYSTEM FOR THE LAWN AND HAVE REDUCED THE AMOUNT OF WATER SO THAT HOPEFULLY THE ROOTS WOULD GO DOWN SEEKING WATER BUT I DON'T WANT THE LAWN TO GO WITHOUT.

WHAT CAN I DO TO REVERSE THIS OR PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING AND CORRECT THE EXISTING CONDITION. I WAS TOLD I COULD CUT OUT NO MORE THAN 1/3 OF THE EXPOSED ROOTS PER YEAR BUT THE NEXT YEAR THERE SEEMS TO BE EVEN MORE ROOTS EXPOSED.


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Answer from NGA
April 27, 2001

0

Mature trees will occasionally grow roots at the soil surface. As you have seen, cutting them usually stimulates new growth. In some cases it is caused by soil conditions such as a compacted hardpan beneath shallow topsoil, in other cases it is simply the way the tree grows in search of both water and (surprisingly) air. Setting the lawn mower to the recommended mowing height of about two and a half inches usually allows the mower to pass over the roots. You might also want to consult with a professionally trained and certified arborist as to the health and rooting patterns of your trees, just to make sure there are no unusual circumstances causing them to grow unnaturally.

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