Ask a Question forum→garden plot taken over by roots from maple tree

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Allentown, PA
sridhar555
Oct 23, 2021 3:50 PM CST
Hi_
I have 2 huge maple trees in my front yard... 30 years old. Lots lots of surface roots and grass hardly grows around them . that's not the problem..
I had a guy come in with a back hoe and dig and made a nice 10x30ft front lot adjacent to the house foundation ( about 30ft from the trees)and planted a bunch of knockout roses. Noticed very stunted growth. wanted to see what was happening, so tried to dig a couple of roses out. To my surprise the entire garden lot is filled with fibrous roots from the maple trees... 6-9" deep in just ONE year. I removed all of them and replanted my roses. I know this will not fix anything. The roots are going to come back.
so my question--
How do I prevent the root growth into my garden plot ?
looking for a sort of permanent solution.
cutting down the trees is NOT an option. love my huge trees.
thanks
sam
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Oct 23, 2021 3:51 PM CST
Unfortunately I believe your options are to relocate the garden or take the trees out.
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Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Oct 23, 2021 5:41 PM CST
Agreed!
When you grow orchids, it is all about the ROOTS!!!
Name: Sharon Rose
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
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Altheabyanothername
Oct 23, 2021 6:34 PM CST
You have been given good advice. Thumbs up

Tall bearded iris...when putting new rhizomes in, iris can deal with some tree roots. The rhizome sits on top of the soil and the roots are not comprised of a main or tap root. Dutch iris are bulbs not rhizomes. Bulbs deal well with tree roots...in your zone most are spring plants such as daffodils.

You can arrange some nice, very large containers on top...I am not familiar with your winters...and grow many different things in them.
I would put screening over the drainage holes and then set the containers on concrete patio blocks. Otherwise the tree roots will grow up the pots/containers through the drainage holes.
Here are some ideas...There is a rose in the container...my zone allows it. But if you will have some place to protect your containers in winter...you can grow roses in containers near a tree. My last picture...a little blurry...that picture shows the large pecan tree that is right there.
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Maybe one of these ideas will help... May you find a successful work around.


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ElPolloDiablo
Oct 24, 2021 3:14 AM CST
There do exist root inhibitors, both in water soluble granules and in form of impregnated platic sheets, but they were originally designed to keep drainage/sewage lines clean of roots AND they aren't a definite solution: granules need to be applied twice a year and impregnated sheets need to be replaced regularly. On top of this they do exactly what's written on the label, meaning they will affect your maples and other plants in equal measure.

Personally I would just get rid of the maples: cut them down, have the stumps ground or dug out and the worst affected areas plowed over and restart anew. It's not cheap, but it's the only 100% defintive solution.
The Saviour.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
Oct 24, 2021 5:41 AM CST
Hi,
Frustrating, for sure.
With 2 big maples and a house, I imagine the place is too shady for the best roses?

Along with suggestions from Sharon Rose ..

You can have a garden, just not with roses. Around my group of five maples, I have hosta, columbine, lily of the valley, violets, daffodils, Spanish bluebells, Vinca major, American ginger, European ginger, False solomons seal, Japanese anemone, false dragonhead, a Christmas fern ....more.. I don't recommend lot of ground cover along a house foundation.
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Allentown, PA
sridhar555
Oct 24, 2021 7:11 AM CST
Thanks to all of you for your suggestions...
apparently this root problem is a huge one for the "raised bed" gardeners with trees near by.
one approach many have taken is to dig a trench 2-3ft deep along the edge of the garden plot and place a long continuous stretch of aluminum flashing to prevent the root spreading. I am thinking of doing this.
Anyone has tried this aluminum flashing idea? If so happy with the outcome ?
thanks
Sam
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Oct 24, 2021 7:13 AM CST
Yay sallyg!

Large maples are way too valuable to even consider removing unless there is a very compelling reason! (like dying and leaning toward the house or street)

Knockout roses is not a compelling reason.

While you could build some kind of raised bed with a liner (think weed barrier fabric), Knockout roses are just so common and easy that it's hard to be too concerned about them...

At my house, I brought out the cuttings from the ones that I cut back in town... shoved the pieces into the sand, watered once, have a ton of rose bushes that I'd sure like to give away....

In PA, There are tons of natural shade loving wildflowers... The real problem with most is that they have such a short bloom period.
The solution is usually to search out and plant shade lovers that produce staggered bloom intervals, as well as charming foliage plants... asarum and christmas ferns mentioned above are very nice plants...

As is May apple (Podophyllum sp.), and solomon seal, and merry bells (Uvularia grandiflora)...

but Knockout roses? Might want to reconsider what goes into that flower bed... And... Be very careful to limit the root pruning that you do to your maple trees in the future... I've seen maples topple when too much root pruning was done... they don't have tap roots...

Edit:
You snuck in and posted while I was posting...
I wouldn't bother with flashing... I've seen it used to deter beaver... And it wasn't pretty. Stick with the weed fabric. Won't be permanent, but will be fairly long lasting.

[Last edited by stone - Oct 24, 2021 7:17 AM (+)]
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
Oct 24, 2021 7:27 AM CST
Also Autumn Joy sedum and liriope whether variegated or plain green.

I don't think you'll be happy with the effort of the 2+ foot trench and the eventual results.. trees find a way..
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
West Central Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Rubi
Oct 24, 2021 12:09 PM CST
Trees will find a way. I have tree roots that grow down under a five foot stone wall and then back up into my garden.
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
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SunnyBorders
Oct 24, 2021 4:25 PM CST
Sridhar555, I don't know your growing conditions or what types of maples are involved, but have had a situation perhaps approximating your one with one of our herbaceous perennial beds. Bed below, has roots continually invading from two of three silver maples (pictures below). The trees belong, one to the town and the other to a neighbour. Over a dozen or so years, we've had to take out two branches from the neighbour's tree, as they were starting to shade out our front garden.

Despite having an ongoing problem with silver maple roots, have been able to maintain a wide variety of herbaceous perennials in that bed, perennials that bloom at various times through the growing season. Through the years, whenever the opportunity came, adding/replacing/dividing plants, fall clean up, etc., I have chopped through maple roots and pulled them out. While edging, I saw/cut through maple roots and pull roots out.

It's interesting that many herbaceous perennials have continued to grow and spread in that flower bed, four of the most obvious at holding their own have been the peonies, daylilies, culver's root and a fall aster.
Sept 13, 2013
Thumb of 2021-10-24/SunnyBorders/a637b2
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ElPolloDiablo
Oct 25, 2021 3:43 AM CST
sridhar555 said:Thanks to all of you for your suggestions...
apparently this root problem is a huge one for the "raised bed" gardeners with trees near by.
one approach many have taken is to dig a trench 2-3ft deep along the edge of the garden plot and place a long continuous stretch of aluminum flashing to prevent the root spreading. I am thinking of doing this.
Anyone has tried this aluminum flashing idea? If so happy with the outcome ?
thanks
Sam


My grandfather used aluminum flashing to contain a stand of bamboo... 30+ years have passed so my recollection may not be the best, but at first it worked pretty well, but as time went by we started seeing very clear signs the bamboo was finding a way out. I remember especially well finding bamboo shoots 60-70ft away from the flashing and I keep on wondering how it got so far without re-emerging much closer.

I seem to recall the flashing was about 2' deep so it's perfectly possible the bamboo roots found their way underneath, but it's also possible the flashing started deteriorating after years in the ground and roots just went through any holes they may have found.
The Saviour.
Allentown, PA
sridhar555
Oct 25, 2021 3:14 PM CST
Thanks to all of you for your suggestions..
I will try a combination of a bunch of theses ideas.
Not cutting my trees. Never.
Thanks
Sam
Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 9a)
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kittriana
Oct 25, 2021 3:33 PM CST
Minimum 3' depth for bamboo, and they incinerate the dirt and all or it returns, maples are compartmentalized type of tree, damage a root and that whole side of the tree dies that it supported. Cannot stop tree roots, the long term ones you see, nor the fast water grabbing ones that pop up in a rain. In Pa I would bet you need more sunshine to grow roses than you get anywhere close to those maples. Only ones I have seen doing well are definitely in open areas.
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Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
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Leftwood
Oct 25, 2021 7:04 PM CST
kittriana said:damage a root and that whole side of the tree dies that it supported.


It's cool that you learned about compartmentalization, kittriana, but don't jump to conclusions. That's not quite how it works. Damaging one root 30 ft away from the tree trunk is not going to kill half the tree (or whatever you define as a "whole side" of a tree). Such a root could not possibly be the sole supporting root of a "whole side" of a tree. The back hoe cut more than one root without (at least noticeable) damage to the trees, and one could easily cut 50 one or two year old roots 30ft away from a tree without causing longterm stress.
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Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 9a)
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kittriana
Oct 25, 2021 8:26 PM CST
Chuckl, simply that this tree is possible of that, one root, one branch etc. Cannot grow maples here
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Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
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Arico
Oct 29, 2021 5:07 PM CST
Your problem is two(three) fold really.
1) The bed is right up against the house and this is a site that's clasically prone to be drier (espesially so if you have eves) + any moisture that IS present is quickly taken up by the tree roots
2) You didn't adjust your plant choice to the conditions present, but forced a scheme with a high propability of failure.

Trees (even young ones) can grow new roots into 1 cubic meter of new soil anually. So the way I see it, is to either accept the conditions given and choose plants that thrive in dry (shady) soils, or install a deep barrier all the way around (metal, concrete..)

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