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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.

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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.

 

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