Learn to plant and maintain strong, healthy trees that will thrive for generations.

Root Care

Because they live below ground, roots are often ignored and sometimes abused. They are a common concern for many people because, without proper care, tree roots can threaten to lift sidewalks, invade flower beds, and damage foundations. Oftentimes, it seems that the simplest solution is to cut or remove inconvenient roots, but keep in mind that, even though you can’t always see them, roots play an important role in the life of a tree.

Roots Above Ground Photo 

Below the ground basics:

  • Tree roots absorb nutrients and water from the soil 
  • Large roots anchor the tree into the ground to prevent it from blowing over in the wind 
  • Most roots live just 6-12 inches below ground and extend far beyond the width of the tree’s canopy
  • Cutting tree roots can cause stress to a tree and can leave it vulnerable to disease or insect attack

Here are some tips to help you keep your roots healthy and safe:

  • During dry months, mature trees need to be watered deeply. Learn about your tree’s water needs and how to water deeply in our Watering Guide
  • Roots need oxygen. By allowing soil to dry for several days between watering, oxygen can make its way to the roots. Avoid piling new soil or compacting the ground underneath the tree. This can suffocate the roots that absorb oxygen close to the surface. 
  • Spread mulch underneath the tree to protect the roots and provide some extra moisture and nutrients.
  • Keep flowers, ground covers, and other plants away from the base of the tree. Digging and extra watering for these plants can damage tree roots that live 6-12 inches below the surface. 
  • If you cannot avoid disturbing the roots, it is less stressful on the tree during the late fall and winter 
  • Plant new trees with plenty of space for future roots to grow.
  • Consult a Certified Arborist if you have trouble with tree roots or are considering removing roots. Learn how to hire a reliable tree care company.

Remember that, even though you can’t see them, roots are working to keep your tree healthy, strong, and anchored into the ground. Be sure to keep them safe and consult a Certified Arborist before disturbing your tree’s intricate root system.