Correcting Aggressive Roots | Cleveland Tree Root Care

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Roots are one of the most important parts of the tree. Growing deep into the soil, they work hard to get nutrients and water to help trees grow and thrive. However, sometimes roots can cause major problems, especially in urban and suburban settings. By working with a Gates Mills tree company like Vancuren Tree Service, you can learn how to prevent and work with trees when their roots become problematic.

Roots cause such a problem in urban areas because they often grow between buildings or under pavement, like driveways and sidewalks. Sometimes they can break walls, pipes, patios, and cause damage to structures. The easiest way to correct this is with preventative landscaping.

The majority of a tree’s roots are within the first two feet of the soil. If the space is available, its roots can spread two to three times larger than its crown.

Before planting a new tree, know how it can damage your property and then take steps to keep that from happening. As roots grow, they become thicker, and shallow roots move towards the surface. Soil closest to the surface is the best for root growth, so root systems are often just below the surface. This can cause problems with man made obstacles. If the soil is covered by something like a driveway or patio, roots that usually grow upward don’t get the indicators they need, like more light or air, that let them know they are nearing the surface. Therefore, they might start to grow against the underside of the patio, driveway, etc. and become problematic.

In fact, most damage caused by roots is found six feet or less from the tree. This is because the further the roots are from the tree, the smaller and less damaging they are.

One solution for aggressive and invasive roots is to grind them down and remove them, but this is often expensive and can be quite harmful for the tree. This is because the wound in the roots creates access for pathogens and can make the tree vulnerable to disease. Cutting the tree’s roots also reduces its ability to get nutrients and water, which makes it more susceptible to drought. It can also cause major stress in the tree, in addition to reducing its structural support. This could eventually lead to the tree falling over.

To avoid these issues, if you are going to cut roots, cut further from the trunk. Do not cut roots that are wider than 2 inches in diameter. You can also prune smaller roots back to a side or downward growing root if possible. Severed roots recover better if you cut them cleanly, in addition to watering and mulching thoroughly after pruning.

There are other steps you can take to manage these aggressive roots. One thing you can do is install root guides or barriers that redirect the roots downwards, away from structures and pavement. This has little impact on the tree.

You could also create new manmade structures around tree roots, rather than expecting trees to grow roots around the structures. You could also suspend these structures to create bridges over the roots.

The best option is to choose trees for your landscape that will not cause damage. Also, be mindful of where you are planting new trees. You should not plant large shade trees within 12 feet of pavement or structures. Plant trees that will grow to a mature height of less than 30 feet in areas that are 5 to 7 feet away from structures. If the tree’s mature height is less than 50 feet, plant them 7 to 10 feet away from structures. If the tree is higher than 50 feet at maturity, give it at least 12 feet of space around the trunk.

Sometimes roots can cause damage to pipes. While breaking pipes is rare, roots can often block damaged pipes. Pipes that are old can be subject to invading roots. When this happens, root growth can be stimulated by moisture and nutrients being released from the pipe so the root grows towards it. Once a root enters a sewer pipe, for example, growth can be rapid. This happens often with species like poplars, willows, and silver maples, because they are naturally found in wet conditions. If this happens, the blockage must be cleared mechanically, although there are chemical treatments available for preventative care.

Roots can also lift pavement if they grow too close to it or if the soil is compacted. This can be prevented by planting smaller plants by pavement and giving it at least 4 feet between the tree and the pavement. If the pavement is lifted, you can either move the pavement away from the tree or prune the roots. People often install barriers after this occurs to prevent the pavement from lifting again.

Exposed roots can also cause problems. Some species of trees, such as maples, grow roots very close to the surface. Climate conditions like alternate freezing and thawing can cause frost heaving, which can expose roots. Soil erosion can also do this. When roots are exposed, they can cause a tripping hazard or cause issues with moving. The roots can also be easily injured. This can be difficult to fix because removing the roots can cause serious stress to the tree, but covering them with soil can cut off its oxygen supply. The best solution is to add mulch or wood chips to the area.

Another problem you may face is girdling roots. These are problematic because they restrict the flow of water and nutrients throughout the trunk, causing general decline of health and dieback of the crown. Girdling roots occur for a variety of reasons and they time it takes to develop varies as well. It could happen early in the tree’s life or develop 20 years later. If the tree is established and the girdling roots are large, this can be a very difficult problem to correct. Removing the problem roots can cause damage to the root system and decline to the tree’s health, but several roots may be intertwined, causing damage. It’s hard to predict whether removing the root would cause more damage than leaving it alone. In this case, species can make a difference because growth patterns differ.

The best and easiest way to take care of aggressive roots is through preventative landscaping. This will help you avoid many of the problems that can be caused by roots. Another great route is to work with a Gates Mills Tree Company like Vancuren Tree Service, that can help you correct the problem and take care of your trees as they grow.

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