Tree roots are usually cut purposefully, such as they they interfere with structures on your property such as the foundation or a sewer pipe. However, they can also be cut accidentally, like if you run a lawn mower or large vehicle over them. Whichever way it happens, cutting tree roots is potentially dangerous to the tree, and if they must be cut, it has to be done with care. What are the potential dangers of cutting a tree’s roots?
It’s Harder for the Tree to Take Up Nutrients
The roots of the tree both anchor it into the soil and allow it to take up nutrients. If the roots are cut, then the tree’s ability to feed itself is diminished. This can impact the tree by causing its leaves to turn yellow and its branches to die. The growth of a young tree may also be stunted. If the roots have been carefully trimmed and the tree is already healthy, it can recover. However, a tree that’s already sickly and struggling may not rebound from having its roots cut.
Increased Risk of Diseases and Pests
The stress that comes from having its roots cut makes a tree especially vulnerable to diseases and pests. These range from wilt and root rot to borers and beetles that feed on the tree’s roots or other structures. Again, a tree that’s already ailing may not survive.
The Tree Can Become Unstable
Cutting a tree root can make the tree unstable as well as expose it to the risks already discussed. The root doesn’t even have to be very large. For instance, a root just 2 inches in diameter can affect the tree’s structure. Without stability provided by the roots, the tree is more likely to fall during a storm.
What to Do to Prune Tree Roots
Tree roots can be unattractive if they can be seen, but that’s not a reason to cut them. If you must cut your tree’s roots, you should cut at a distance from the trunk no less than three times the diameter of the trunk. The closer a root is cut to the trunk, the more damage the tree sustains. You should also never take away more than a quarter of the root zone, for this can outright kill your tree. You should wait at least two years between root pruning. Be sure to do it when the tree is dormant and doesn’t need to take up nutrients to promote leaf and flower growth. After that, cover the roots and keep the soil moist.
Learn More About the Right Way to Cut Tree Roots
It’s best to consult with professional arborists to learn how to cut your tree’s roots in a way that causes them minimal damage. You don’t want to destabilize your trees to the point where they risk falling over. For more information on tree root cutting, reach out to our arborists at All Green Tree Service in Sheridan.