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  • Writer's pictureRussell Fey

The Dangers Of Tree Root Damage

Tree Roots

If you have mature trees in your yard, there’s a chance you may be looking at what you would call unsightly tree roots. Exposed tree roots do have a tendency to break up concrete, cause uneven, rough patches in your yard, and even pose a tripping hazard for you and your loved ones.

Before you take a hatchet to those exposed roots, consider their function and the role they play in keeping your trees lush and healthy, as well as any consequences you’ll experience should you decide to remove them.

The function of tree roots

Roots have two primary functions---feeding and providing structure. Structure roots are those that begin at the base of the tree, spreading out under the canopy. As the roots move outward, they grow smaller in diameter, and their job is to provide structure and stability as the tree grows out and up.

Smaller roots spreading out toward the outer edges of the canopy have the critical job of assimilating water and nutrients from the soil. These small, fibrous roots must be kept intact to provide proper nutrition for your trees. Both types of roots are necessary for a tree to grow and flourish.

Root pruning

Before you decide to go Lizzie Bordon on those exposed tree roots, consider this. Any time you alter the physical structure of a tree, there will be long-reaching consequences for your actions. Here are some complications that could crop up as a result of improper pruning:

  1. Problems with structure and stability--Large roots spanning out from a tree trunk provide the structure and stability of a tree. Without them, you could find yourself with a tree that doesn’t grow properly, and one that could potentially damage your property and injure loved ones.

  2. Diminished growth, injury, and death--Unless you are well-versed in all aspects of tree care, including pruning, you could be putting your tree at risk for diminished growth and injury. In extreme cases, cutting roots back permanently damages the vascular structure through which it receives nutrients, and you’ll find yourself with a tree in need of removal. Hiring an arborist to care for your tree’s root system properly is significantly less expensive than removing a tree; consider calling a professional to assess your root system and make recommendations for care and management.

  3. Increased risk of infestation and disease--Much like the human body, a tree in distress is more susceptible to infestation and disease. Fungal infections are a significant problem, as they enter cut roots and take hold of a tree from the inside. These open root systems are also an open invitation for insects that like to burrow into weakened tissues.

Altering root systems during construction and renovation

Construction and renovation projects often involve altering the ground around your home as well. If you must dig near your home, try to incur as little damage as possible as you make structural improvements to your home and property.

Things to know if you must prune your tree roots

There will be times when trimming tree roots is necessary, but this should never be for aesthetic reasons. Do not attempt to cut roots larger than 2 inches in diameter, as you are removing a main line of nutrition and stability. No more than twenty percent of above-ground roots should be removed on a single tree, or you will be compromising its future growth and health by doing so. Optimal pruning time is late winter through early spring, as there is less stress on trees during that time.

When in doubt… Sarasota Tree Service!

Sarasota Tree Service is a family-owned and operated company specializing in all aspects of tree care. Over 40 years of top-notch services such as tree trimming, landscape design, removal, assessment, and treatment of infestation and disease ensure that we are the best in the business. If you have concerns about tree health, we’ve got you covered! Visit for more information.

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