How to Prevent Tree Roots from Growing Into Your Lawn

Tree roots are typically a sign that everything is going right with your trees. If they are visible, many people believe that they can better monitor them for any problems. While that is true in some aspects, tree roots that grow into your lawn can be a huge problem – not only are they unsightly, but they are more likely to be damaged (and to damage other things that you may use in your yard).

However, you aren’t relegated to keeping them if they are truly causing a problem. You have options, though you do have to weigh some of the pros and cons of eliminating the roots versus just learning to live with them.

When your children run through the yard, when you are mowing the lawn, and even when your dog goes out to use the bathroom, tree roots can pose danger. While there are some ways to fix the problem, here are some ways to prevent your tree roots from growing into your lawn in the first place:

4. Don’t Just Tear Them Out

  • Some trees may respond well, but most won’t
  • Seek professional help if you have no other options
  • Special tools may be required for cutting

The first thing you need to do is realize that you cannot just cut off the roots and hope for the best. This will result in a tree that does not adjust well to the cut – think of it like cutting off part of your own foot and trying to stand. If a professional does it, you might be okay, but you probably will still have some problems adjusting.

According to Gardens Alive, “In short, lawns under trees are always going to be problematic at best, and require much more care than lawns in sun (or even shady lawns that don’t have trees giving them wedgies and stealing their lunch money). That’s why the areas under trees in Nature tend to be bare, covered by roots or dotted with tough and scrappy little plants.”

You may just have to accept it and work with what you have in some cases, it is really something that goes tree by tree.

3. Check for Sprouts

  • Often mistaken for roots
  • Immediately eliminate to prevent further growth
  • Cut judiciously

If you are seeing quite a few upright stems coming from the roots, there is a chance that your roots are giving off shoots of the tree. Essentially, these are smaller, weaker trees that will not grow into big, healthy trees. Sometimes they can grow quite large, and the root systems will compete and this causes the roots to come out of the ground and into your lawn even more.

According to Home Guides, you do have to be careful about how you eliminate shoots that are near the roots of a tree, because “Treating a sucker growing out of a tree’s root system with herbicides can injure the tree. However, some commercially available products may specify that they are able to control suckering or are suitable for treatment of sprouts growing a minimum distance away from the parent tree.”

2. Consider Alternate Methods

  • Natural methods do exist
  • Rock salt is a fantastic option
  • These take longer, but don’t harm your yard

Many people avoid using harsh chemicals to kill the roots of a tree that have ventured into your yard because they are afraid of what those chemicals will do. Since we do live in our yards, and if you are worried enough about your roots that you want to eliminate them, it is likely that you spend a lot of time in your yard as well.

Bob Villa suggests using rock salt to essentially kill the tree roots by dehydrating them. You do have to be careful because pets are drawn to rock salt and that can be extremely hazardous when outside. You will have to leave a rock salt solution on for some time, so you might want to aim for a time when your pets won’t be outside.

1. Consider the Age and Stability of the Tree

  • Older trees will become unstable
  • Young trees may still need time to adjust
  • Make sure to add support for some time

If you do decide to eliminate the roots of the tree, you want to consider what you need to do after the roots have been removed. Simply eliminating the root system from the grass is not the end of your job – you have to ensure that the tree is still healthy.

Start checking the leaves and trunk regularly for any other problems that may start to appear. You have to be aware of any infestations, diseases, and breakages that occur as a result of the cut. Any number of things can happen, especially if you aren’t a professional and don’t use the best techniques or tools when removing the root systems.

But remember – according to the Georgia Forestry Commission: “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. Real, long term solutions increase the integrity of the tree’s root system and the viability of the tree.”

At Ridgeline Tree Service, our goal is to ensure that your trees work with your entire family – and your yard. They really need to match what you do in your yard. Our company aims to keep your trees in your yard and make them work for you.

We serve the greater Richmond area with our professionalism, skills, and experience. If you have any questions about tree care or you feel that something is going wrong with your trees, give us a call today at (804) 378-2900 to schedule a meeting.

If you already have trees that have roots growing into your grass or you want to prevent that from happening, give us a call today and we can make your yard dreams a reality.

Header photo courtesy of Kathleen Maher on Flickr!


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