Tips on Tree Root Care


A tree’s roots aren’t always underground. They can grow above ground, in open air, and even underwater. All they need to grow is an environment that supplies oxygen, water, warmth, and nutrients to it. They grow without predefined patterns, adapting to their surroundings as opportunities present.

Caring for tree roots is all about understanding the growth of the root and providing the necessary means for proper growth. If you see big roots sticking out of the ground, snaking or curling on the soil’s surface around a tree, sometimes it indicates other underlying issues. The roots of the tree normally grow just below ground, in the top 11 to 17 inches of soil. Their overall spread is much wider than most people realize, but they don’t show on the surface unless they’re forced to. The roots of the tree are primarily exposed in one of two cases:


  • Runoff, rain or wind that may eat at the soil around the roots. This is especially common on slopes and embankments.
  • Lack of space. This is a major problem in urban areas, as the tree is unable to find enough space for its roots, most commonly because it was planted in too small an area, near streets, sidewalks, or buildings. When a growing root of a tree encounters a hurdle, such as a curb or a foundation, the roots adjust and often find their way to the surface.

How to Care

To take care of tree roots, it’s important to consider it as a part of your property’s comprehensive landscape maintenance plan.  A common solution for exposed roots is to spread mulch over the roots. This will discourage foot traffic, while cushioning and insulating the roots. Use organic material such as a shredded wood or wood chips and spread it in an even layer 3 to 5 inches deep under the surface of the soil for best results. It’s much healthier and safer for a tree’s root system to be covered by mulch and it’s important to allow the mulched area to be as big as it needs, to cover exposed roots completely.

Yellowstone Landscape has been providing tree care and landscape maintenance services to our customers for years. If you’re in need of landscape maintenance services, connect with us today!


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