How Big Of A Problem Is Exposed Tree Roots?

Arborists in Vancouver share information about exposed tree roots in your landscape.

Trees add so much value to a landscape. But, they can make lawn care more difficult. Constantly picking up fallen limbs and raking up leaves before you mow adds extra steps to your landscaping process. It can be especially distressing when you are mowing and you take a chunk out of an exposed tree root.

Exposed tree roots can seem to happen out of the blue and when you notice them it’s usually because they have been damaged. Knowing how to prevent exposed tree roots and what to do about them can help you keep your trees and your lawn happy.

What Causes Tree Roots To Become Exposed?

Contrary to what you may think, most species of trees don’t make a habit of sending their roots up to the surface. Roots on the surface cannot access the nutrients that are needed to feed the tree. The tender roots are better suited to being underground where the layers of soil can protect them.

So what causes them to become exposed? Most often topsoil erosion is what exposes tree roots. The roots are safely underground until natural surface runoff “brings them to the surface.”

Are Exposed Roots Harmful To Trees?

For the tree, having roots exposed is not necessarily a bad thing. Nutrient availability for the roots will be less and some of the anchoring power or the roots may be compromised, but this is usually not enough to be serious. The main danger of exposed roots is the damage they are exposed to when sitting on or near the surface of the soil.

Roots are delicate structures with an outer skin. The outer skin protects them, much like your skin protects you. When the skin is damaged, or worse yet, when chucks are taken out of the root, the root becomes vulnerable to infection from mould, fungus and wood-eating insects. The damage and the ensuing infections cut off nutrients to the tree that were being transported through the root. 

How Should You Care For A Tree With Exposed Roots?

The best way to care for a tree with exposed roots is to work to prevent them. Any steps that can be taken to minimize surface run-off will help. Planting shade-tolerant grasses or perennials will ensure there is something there to anchor the topsoil. Often, homeowners will build slightly raised beds around larger trees for more landscaping and soil conservation. Depending on how your property drains water, it may be necessary to address this on a larger scale with gutters or french drains.

But, what if you already have a tree with exposed roots? The best thing you can do is protect the roots. Stop mowing over them is the first step. The next step is to provide some cover. The best cover is mulch. Mulching over exposed tree roots will keep them safe and work to provide moisture and nutrients to the tree as it grows.

About VI Tree Service    

VI Tree Service has been taking care of trees in the Vancouver area since 1990. Their arborists are experts at keeping trees healthy and landscapes safe. From proper tree care to safe tree removals, their teams have the tree care solutions to help you.