If you look out into your lawn, do you see beautiful fields of green – or do you see tree roots killing grass every so often? It is a battle that many homeowners have fought over the years, and sadly, very few people have emerged the winner. Sometimes, they will eliminate the roots but the tree later dies, or sometimes they don’t get to eliminate the roots at all and they just live with a yard that doesn’t meet their needs.

The reality is that sometimes there isn’t a compromise, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to look for one. You can prevent, in some ways, tree roots from completely taking over your yard. Here are a few tips to consider before (and during) root removal:

4. Your Tree Must Always Stay Healthy

  • Older trees are at the most risk for death after root removal
  • Younger trees are going to need stability, but can grow back
  • Make sure to add support to trees of any age that start to lean after root removal

The Georgia Forestry Commission has some harsh words abou removing tree roots or trying to hide them: “Understory planting of ground covers or foundation plants is not a solution. Covering the roots with a foot of soil is also not a solution.” Many people think that throwing soil over the tree is good enough. However, that can severely harm your trees.

Whatever you do, it has to be the best option for your trees. If you want to hide the roots, you might have to find a better way to do it than just soil and grass seed. Figure out a way to make your yard still look good with the roots. Simply cutting the roots isn’t a great idea either, as it can introduce diseases and pests into your trees.

Make sure to talk to a professional before cutting or eliminating roots. Every step of the process needs to be careful and diligent – or you will create an even bigger problem for yourself.

3. Ensure That The Trees Aren’t Sprouting

  • Roots and sprouts are easy to confuse at times
  • You can eliminate most sprouts safely
  • Be careful when cutting and pulling that you don’t damage the roots themselves

For those who have roots that have a lot of vegetation in them – flowers, grass, ivy, vines, and pretty much anything else that can grow – you might have difficulty determining what is a root and what isn’t. Mostly, you don’t want anything else growing there because it can drain your tree of water and nutrients. However, if you do have something growing, you can be free to pull and cut to your heart’s content. That is especially true about something we often see on the roots of a tree: suckers.

Suckers are just what they sound like – smaller, weaker forms of the tree that suck on and slowly kill it. Home Guides, which often warns about suckers, stresses the need to eliminate them as soon as possible. However, they also warn against using any chemicals or harsh products that can damage the other vegetation in your yard.

If you see something that looks like it could form into a tree along the roots, get it out as soon as possible. These sprouts will be nothing but bad news for your trees, your yard, and even other plants in the garden. Completely eliminate them as soon as you can.

2. Consider Alternative Methods

  • Rock salt and natural methods are safer for your yard
  • Ensure any treatments are safe for pets as well
  • These options may take longer but don’t harm your yard

Many people believe that the harsher you are, the more likely your roots are to cooperate. That just isn’t the truth. Using harsh chemicals will only serve to damage the tree, your yard, the animals in your yard, your grass, and so much more. To eliminate a tree from your lawn, you just want to be gentle.

Bob Villa suggests using rock salt to slowly strip nutrients away from the roots. When done carefully, this is a great method that really works over time. However, you do have to be patient and safe with the rock salt. Keep any animals away from it and remember to reapply after rainstorms – and check to make sure the rock salt doesn’t drain into other gardens or other yards.

1. Never Just Start Cutting

  • Cutting without thinking and planning is always bad
  • Only use professional grade, sterilized tools to remove roots
  • Be careful about cutting softer trees in particular

Remember, trees are living things and every part of the tree, whether you believe it not, is important. Roots are the hands, feet, and tongues of the tree. They reach down deep into the soil and pull the nutrients and water that the earth (or the home improvement store) provides. According to Gardens Alive, “Big trees have big, efficient roots that tend to take all the water in the area for themselves; and feeding a lawn overtop of those roots is perhaps the perfect way to deliver most of the food to the trees instead of the lawn.”

Simply cutting off the roots and just letting tree fend for itself will result in a tree that falls and collapses.

For some people, living with the roots is better than eliminating a tree, especially if it is a tree that provides shade and shelter. Professionals can help you to trim down the roots of bigger, older trees, or brainstorm ways to prevent root spread when you first plant a tree.

Tree roots are a delicate subject and need to be handled by someone that knows exactly what he or she is doing. The best approach is always to reach out to someone that has the tools and the abilities to help treat, remove, or train the roots to your needs.

Give our team at Cutting Edge Tree Professionals a call today, we will work with you to keep your yard extremely safe and make it even more beautiful than it already is. Remember that time is of the essence, so do not hesitate. Call us at (814) 240-2172.

Header photo courtesy of Peter on Flickr!