A Root in the Grass

The weather report suggests that we might see some sunshine over the long weekend. Wow-wee, long time coming! It will be a blessing to feel some sun on our faces, but I know that the sunshine will also mean something else – yard work. Ah, I can hear the drone of lawnmowers already.

Before you push the lawn mower out of the shed though, take a look at your lawn. With all this rain, I imagine it is pretty green and lush, but if you take a closer look do you see any tree roots creeping up amongst the blades of grass? Have you tripped over roots while walking along or bumped into them with the lawn mower? CLC Tree Services hears these complaints on a weekly basis. The most frequent questions that we get are “can we cut the tree roots out?” or “Is topdressing the roots a good solution, so that they are no longer exposed?“.

While both of these solutions might seem like viable answers, neither is a great cure for your root problems. Let’s address cutting the offending roots out of your lawn first;


Trees are living entities that require several things to remain healthy. One of those requirements is nutrition. Trees receive their nutrition via their roots, where they absorb nutrients to send to the rest of the tree. When you remove roots, you effectively diminish  the tree’s available food sources. This can lead to disease and a tree in distress, if too many roots are cut. While removing a few roots may not be overly detrimental to the overall health of the tree, cutting in appropriate locations and having the knowledge of the health of the remaining roots is key before putting your tree into a stressed situation. Trees will regrow their root systems, but it is a slow process. It is always best to consult with a certified arborist before taking aim at removing tree roots.

Another thing to keep in mind before cutting out offending roots, is the overall stability of the tree. A tree’s roots act as an anchor for it. If too many roots are removed, or the remaining roots are rotten or diseased, you may be in danger of having the tree topple by cutting out its supporting root system. While those bumps in the lawn might bother you, it would be far worse to have a surprise tree nestled onto the roof of your house, when a stiff wind blows and your tree has nothing to support itself with!

Now to address the idea of topdressing the roots, so that they are no longer exposed.


This too might seem like a great idea, but before you heap on the dirt, think about what the function of tree roots are before you cover them up. Roots absorb water and nutrients, but they also intake oxygen. If you pile on heaps of dirt to cover up the exposed roots, you will in effect be depriving the roots of the air that they require to function and live. You might not realize it, but you will be damaging the whole tree, just for the sake of some esthetic repairs. A little soil is one thing, but even a few inches might choke the roots. You might not notice it at first, but the tree will, and you might find limbs at the crown of the tree beginning to die off before long. This is because the tree will be working harder to distribute oxygen and nutrients to its limbs. Hence, the further away from the root system, the less likely those vital nutrients are able to reach the outer parts of the tree.

If you do want to apply some soil around tree roots, make sure that it has plenty of organic matter in it to limit the amount of soil compaction that may occur. Soil compaction works in much the same way as too much dirt, in that the tree roots cannot breathe. In fact, soil compaction can also affect the roots ability to intact water. If you suspect that your soil is compacted around the base of your trees due to machinery, foot traffic or whatever other reason, you could always get your lawn aerated. It helps your lawn as well as your beautiful trees.

If you find that your lawn has a spider web of roots scattered across it and are not sure what to do, drop CLC Tree Services a line. We can offer you advice, or come out to inspect your tree and get to the root of the problem. We hope you have a fabulous Victoria Day long weekend!


About CLCtreeservices

CLC Tree Services has been providing premiere tree services to London and the surrounding area since 1988. We focus on providing tree services to residential, commercial, property owners and property management agencies. We have the desire, knowledge and equipment to solve all difficult tree problems.
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One Response to A Root in the Grass

  1. Pingback: 2011: The Year That Was (In Trees) | CLC Tree Services: The Blog

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