Lawn experts? - roots showing up above ground

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Lawn experts? - roots showing up above ground

Post by dundee » Sun May 05, 2019 2:47 pm

Dear lawn experts,

So in my yard, there is a large tree. Over the years, the roots of this tree are protruding above ground. I would say in a 10ft diameter around the tree, the roots are showing up. It is always a problem when I am cutting grass with my riding mower. What is the easiest way to get around this problem?

Can I just cover it with top soil and let the grass grow out? Would that work? Are there any other suggestions?

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Re: Lawn experts? - roots showing up above ground

Post by Sandtrap » Sun May 05, 2019 4:17 pm

Topsoil over. Landscape.
Do not hurt the roots or the tree suffers.
This is what I've done so that my riding lawnmower does not whack the blades on the roots. :shock:
There was another one that we simply did some creative landscaping.
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Re: Lawn experts? - roots showing up above ground

Post by edge » Sun May 05, 2019 4:18 pm

Agree with above poster. Create a bed around the tree, eg mulch

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Re: Lawn experts? - roots showing up above ground

Post by mhadden1 » Sun May 05, 2019 4:30 pm

Sounds like a silver maple - they are known for exposing their roots that way - at least the ones I had did so. PITA for mowing as mentioned. It's not normally good to add a lot of soil around an existing tree. Mulching around it should be fine though.
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Re: Lawn experts? - roots showing up above ground

Post by NewOldGuy » Sun May 05, 2019 5:39 pm

Our city planted ficus trees along new sidewalks. Things looked beautiful until the ficus roots started lifting the concrete creating trip and insurance hazards. They spent another bundle removing the trees.

If the roots you are seeing are just a few surfacing, you can chop them out. You could add topsoil, compact it, and seed. If all the roots are visible, it may be the wrong tree for your setting.

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Re: Lawn experts? - roots showing up above ground

Post by lthenderson » Mon May 06, 2019 8:57 am

It is generally recommended to NOT add topsoil over the roots. The best methods are to either mulch or plant some sort of ground cover that doesn't need mowing in that area.

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Re: Lawn experts? - roots showing up above ground

Post by LiterallyIronic » Mon May 06, 2019 9:57 am

I'm no lawn expert, but I've got a willow tree doing the same thing. My plan is to yank out all the grass that's near the roots, throw down some topsoil to cover all exposed roots, and then lay some grass sod on top of that. I don't know if that's the best thing to do, but I don't want to be stepping on anything but grass when I walk around my yard. Maybe I'll talk to an arborist.

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Re: Lawn experts? - roots showing up above ground

Post by Small Law Survivor » Mon May 06, 2019 10:12 am

My Japanese Maple is doing this.There is a non-grass/soil border around the tree, so mowing is not a problem. But, the roots are huge, and I've wondered about this phenomenon. The tree is probably 40 years old - we've lived here 26 years, so it's at least that old, and it was mature when we moved here, so 40 years is a reasonable estimate of its age.
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Re: Lawn experts? - roots showing up above ground

Post by chisey » Mon May 06, 2019 10:41 am

If you care about the health of the tree, then your best bet would be to mulch under the tree instead of having grass there anyway. Don't try to bury them in soil, which may cause rot. If there's no grass under there, then mowing is not an issue-- nor is grass thinning due to shade, or grass and the tree competing for resources.

Make sure if/when you do this mulching you do NOT pile the mulch against the trunk. No mulch volcanoes!

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Re: Lawn experts? - roots showing up above ground

Post by WillRetire » Mon May 06, 2019 11:57 am

OP: You want advice from a tree expert first, not from a lawn expert.

A tree expert can tell you if this is normal for that type of tree. And secondly, what if anything you can do about it.

Anecdotal experience: We had a silver maple whose roots were raised across a large area of our backyard. A tree expert explained this is common for that variety, and advised either removing the tree or covering the roots with groundcover to avoid having to mow over roots. However, he explained it might be difficult to get groundcover to grow there. He advised against adding top soil to an existing live tree, saying that the roots will just keep rising for this type of tree. We did not like the tree particularly, so had it removed. Glad we did. No idea how long and far the roots would have continued to grow. Then we added top soil and grew grass to make a beautiful lawn space.

Different tree varieties and different environments may suggest different action.

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