En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Tree roots breaking surface in Allen, TX

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

What caused purple heartwood in my Tuliptree?
June 15, 2009 - My Tulip tree was hit by lightning and all bark from the base of the tree up to 50 feet was blown off. The tree also sustained a significant crack through the trunk. When the tree was cut down, we...
view the full question and answer

User comments on soils from Austin
July 02, 2013 - You had a question this month about chlorosis in a Mexican plum in Bellaire. You correctly, in my opinion, answered that the problem was most likely overwatering. However, I just wanted to point out a...
view the full question and answer

Is Carolina laurel (Prunus caroliniana) a good choice for San Juan Islands, Washington?
November 03, 2007 - What are the prospects for Carolina laurel here on San Juan Island, mixed in with thin stand of douglas fir, about 50 feet from shore, eastern exposure? Water is available but little sun because of l...
view the full question and answer

Texas native mulberry tree
May 01, 2005 - My family recently moved to Kyle, TX (north of San Marcos, south of Austin). I am delighted to discover a dewberry tree in our yard. I have never heard of such a thing. Is this a common species?...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native citrus trees from Mesa AZ
January 13, 2014 - We have one valencia orange tree and one naval orange tree in our Mesa, AZ yard. Just noticed some oranges on both trees have a 1/4 inch diameter hole through the skin and the orange fruit and skin a...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center