En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - March 09, 2009

From: Allen, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Tree roots breaking surface in Allen, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Northern Texas, near Dallas. My questions concerns a tree in my front yard that now has roots that break the surface of the soil and grass. I would like to cover the roots. Should I cover the roots with more soil and create a graded berm back to the trunk of the tree or is this a waste of money and time--any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

ANSWER:

You didn't say what tree you have that is breaking the surface with its roots, but it really doesn't matter, there are a number of trees that do that. Most of the roots of trees are within the first 6" to 12" beneath the surface, and extend beyond the dripline (or shadow edge) of the tree. The roots are up there because that is where the bulk of the nutrition, water and oxygen are, and the roots need all three to support the growth of the tree. That pretty much answers your question in terms of adding earth to top the roots. Either the tree will suffer from loss of its essentials, or the root will just grow right back up through the surface, again. Since not much ground cover will grow beneath the shade of a tree, particularly one that has roots on the surface, the best thing to do is mulch the area with a good quality shredded bark mulch. This will have to be replaced from time to time, but as it decomposes, it will add nutrients to the soil, hold in moisture, and protect the roots from heat and cold.This article from Purdue University Extension When Tree Roots Surface gives some more information, and also suggests planting grasses beneath the tree, but our opinion is that is, as you say, a waste of time and money.

 

More Trees Questions

Sophora seeds to give away
April 13, 2016 - When we moved to TX years ago we bought a mountain laurel so we could have the beautiful purple flowers and were disappointed when the flowers every year were white (with a few purple ones here and th...
view the full question and answer

Average lifespan of Pinchot's Juniper from Golden CO
August 23, 2011 - What is the average lifespan of Juniperus coahuilensis (syn. Juniperus texensis) trees?
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Canary Date Palms from Miami FL
December 06, 2011 - Hi: The fronts of my canary date palm, which I planted about 6 years ago, has been getting brown from the bottom of the tree and working itself towards the top for the past several months now. The b...
view the full question and answer

Native tree for Uvalde Texas
March 10, 2016 - What Tree can grow in Uvalde Tx. Native type
view the full question and answer

Evergreen Trees for Low Maintenance Screen
April 18, 2015 - We live in Pacifica, CA and are looking to plant a row of low maintenance trees in our back yard along our fence, that grow to be a maximum of 15' high, that stay green year round. What do you recomm...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center