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Thursday - June 03, 2010

From: Denton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf
Title: Maple roots in lawn in Denton TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I purchased a new home 4 years ago that came with a landscape package. There are 2 trees in the front yard that I think are red maple trees. I am now seeing their roots appear above the ground which is ruining my nice sodded lawn. What do I need to do?

ANSWER:

When we went to our webpage on Acer rubrum (red maple),and then to the USDA Plant Profile on that tree, we learned that while it is native to Texas, it is pretty well confined to East Texas. That doesn't mean it won't grow in Denton, and really has nothing to do with the roots being on top of the ground, we just always check to see if a plant has been put in where it is native. The Red Maple is a pretty tree, nice in the Fall and good shade, but all the members of the genus Acer are notorious for above-ground, invasive roots. The roots form  a dense, fibrous network, often preventing other plants from growing near its trunk. Very tolerant of most soils, it prefers slightly acid, moist conditions; which is why it is native to East Texas wooded areas. Those surface roots can lift sidewalks and driveways or interfere with mowing. We can't help but feel that your landscaper knew all of this, and just put the trees in anyway.

What can you do about it? Live with it, we're afraid.  Because of the aforementioned tendency to discourage plants growing near its trunk, your grass isn't going to do well, anyway. There really isn't any possible action to force those roots to grow deeper in the ground, that's a genetic instruction for the plant to have those roots. If there is no paving close that can be disrupted by the roots, you could choose to keep it for the shade and appearance. However, this tree lives to be very big, like up to 100 ft., and the circumference of tree roots is often from two to four times the circumference of the crown, and the circumference of the crown may well be nearly the height of the tree. Maybe you won't stay in that house long enough for that to happen to you, but someday, somebody will be dealing with it. 

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