First-time homeowners might be surprised to know that taking care of the trees around their house doesn’t have to be a difficult task. In fact, all it takes is paying attention to certain signifiers of your tree’s health. But what should a person look for if they want to know more about the health of their trees?
When we want to know more about the health of our trees we often look up at the leaves as a way to judge if it is thriving or not. But sometimes leaves aren’t always the only indicator. Tree roots can also inform us if there is a problem with our tree’s health. Roots that look diseased or rotten can tell us if there are larger issues underneath the bark that might need to be addressed.
As tree care professionals, we often have clients ask us what to do about unsightly tree roots. There is a lot more to growing and caring for a healthy tree than water and sunlight. Sometimes the best thing to do is to remove tree roots to protect your tree’s health, but it isn’t always obvious how to remove tree roots.
While we first recommend calling a tree care professional to help you with any tree root issues, there are some things that can be done to lessen the problem for the home gardener, which is why we’ve compiled some helpful tips on how to remove trees roots. It might seem like a daunting task at first, but with a little help, we’re sure that we can make the process much easier.
Why You Should Remove a Tree Root
If you want to remove your own tree roots don’t get overly excited and try and cut everything at once. Only roots that might be causing damage to the tree (like if it is growing into poor quality soil, a contaminated body of water, or even under cement or tar), damage to your home (like if your roots are growing into pipes or threatening the infrastructure of your home), or could do damage to the people that use and visit your home frequently (for instance, people who may need to use your sidewalk or if you have small children that could trip on poorly placed roots) are good candidates for removal.
Remember, roots are the way that your tree gets the water and other nutrients it needs to survive, so cutting away all of your tree’s roots is not a beneficial plan.
Sometimes homeowners wish to remove roots that look unsightly or that might lower the value of their home. These are also good reasons for root removal, just make sure that you aren’t removing too many roots or you’ll cause the tree to become unstable.
Removing the Right Root
Now that you know why one might want or need to remove a tree root, it’s important to follow some guidelines on how to correctly chose the right root to get rid of.
If you have a specific root in mind, make sure that you aren’t starting the removal process too close to the tree. The closer you are to the trunk, the more you’re risking the stability and health of your tree. Instead, measure your tree trunk’s diameter and then multiply that number by at least three. The product of that equation is the closest distance from the tree that you can cut without doing harm. So, for instance, for a tree trunk with a diameter of three feet, you shouldn’t remove a root any closer than nine feet from the tree.
It’s also important not to choose the largest tree root. Larger roots are called structural roots and that is because they do the important task of keeping the tree in place. You can tell a root is a structural root if it begins at the base of the tree and flares out.
And finally, it is crucial that you don’t remove more than twenty percent of your tree’s roots. More than that and you risk harming your tree or even killing it. If you feel that you need to do more than one round of root removal, make sure to space this task out by about three years so that you do not cut off too much in a short period of time.
Digging & Removing a Tree Root
Now that you know the reasons why you should perform a root removal and how to choose the right root, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of how to remove tree roots.
If you need to dig your tree root out of the ground to gain better access, make sure to dig a safe distance away from the tree’s base so that you won’t do any damage to the structure of the tree. Use a digging shovel, trenching shovel, or even a spade for more delicate roots to carefully reveal your root and take care not to break other roots in the process.
Once you have clear access to your root and you’ve measured the safe distance away from the base that you need to be to securely remove your root, mark your root with spray paint so that you know exactly where to make the cut.
Depending on how big the root is, use either gardening shears or gardening scissors for smaller roots or a mechanical reciprocating saw for larger roots. Carefully cut along the mark you have made until the root is completely removed from the tree. Then place a root barrier in the soil to prevent your root from growing back. Install the barrier 30 inches below the surface of the soil, fill the hole you made with new mulch or fertilizer, and voila, you’ve expertly removed your tree root.
If this process still seems a little too daunting, why not give us a call at Mr. Tree and let us assist in this endeavor. We also offer our own root and tree removal services if you have a complicated problem with your tree roots, such as roots that have grown into underground pipes or other infrastructure. No matter how big or small the issue, our professional and skilled tree care specialists are happy to help.