En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Caterpillars ate my Sophora in La Mesa, CA.
July 06, 2011 - Before I noticed what was happening, my newly-planted 1 foot tall Sophora secundiflora was eaten by caterpillars. It now has no foliage. Do you think it will leaf out again?
view the full question and answer

Looking for a plant to use as a windbreak for a small orchard in Pineville LA.
February 28, 2011 - We are looking for a good plant to use as a wind break for our small fruit orchard.
view the full question and answer

Re-landscaping in Stephenville, TX.
November 17, 2012 - I prefer native plants. We are re-landsacaping, so I need grass, ground cover, vines and flowers to plant in our back yard. We have many trees and the whole yard is shady. A small area might be con...
view the full question and answer

Propagating Magnolia grandiflora from Murfreesboro TN
August 03, 2011 - There are several Magnolia grandiflora (Southern magnolia) that have been planted in my neighborhood in middle Tennessee by a landscaping company, and now that they all appear to be producing seeds, ...
view the full question and answer

Grafting stone fruit
April 02, 2009 - Do you know of anyone grafting the new low chill stone fruit trees to the Mexican plum to minimize cotton rot? Or would it even work?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center