Hurricane Ian Response: We are responding to post-storm requests where we can do so safely. Please visit the American Red Cross to assist families impacted by Ian.

There’s a lot to love about tree roots. They’re in charge of stowing away the nutrients trees need to stay healthy and anchoring trees in place so they can stand tall and proud.

But let’s face it: no matter how wonderful roots are, it sure is a pain when they creep up past the soil surface and start to grow above ground. Exposed tree roots aren’t just unappealing to look at, they make it tough to landscape your yard and leave your trees vulnerable to damage. 

So, you’ve got exposed roots; now what? Read on to learn how surface roots can affect the health of your tree.

My tree roots are exposed. What do I do?

When you’re dealing with above-ground roots, protecting your tree from damage should be a top priority.

Do exposed tree roots cause damage to my tree?

Exposed tree roots in and of themselves don’t mean your tree’s in trouble. It’s quite the opposite, in fact—trees with surface roots are alive and well. We often think that tree roots are burrowed deep into the soil, and yes, they can stretch far underground. But some tree roots are shallower than we think, sitting just 10 inches or less below the soil. It’s not uncommon for these shallow roots to pop up above ground as the tree grows over time.

The real risk comes from surface roots being damaged by lawn mowers or other machinery. When exposed roots are wounded, the tree is more vulnerable to a disease or insect infestation. Plus, the healing process can take quite a long time, and trees need extra care to regain their strength.

Landscaping with exposed tree roots

When tree roots surface, the look and feel of your landscape can change.

For starters, mowing the lawn when you’ve got exposed roots can feel like navigating a maze. It’s crucial to avoid rolling over roots with your mower, so it might be tough to give your grass a uniform look.

Also, outdoor spaces could be compromised. You wouldn’t want to set up a seating or play area near exposed roots because they’re a tripping hazard.

And to some homeowners, surface roots just don’t look good. Luckily there are a number of ways you can cover above-ground roots to keep your yard appealing and your tree protected.

Best ways to cover up and protect exposed tree roots

If you don’t like the look of surface roots, cover ‘em up! Low maintenance, shade-loving ground cover plants will both camouflage the roots and add charm. Plants like periwinkle, Japanese spurge, Asiatic jasmine and wild ginger are all great options.

Also, protecting above-ground roots with mulch has dual benefits—you can shield the roots from damage and conserve moisture in the soil at the same time.

Read more about why mulch is the best solution for exposed tree roots.

Related Blog Posts

Exposed Tree Roots Resized
Property Maintenance & Landscaping

Are Exposed Tree Roots a Bad Thing? Get to the Root of the Problem

Exposed tree roots make it tough to landscape your yard and leave your trees vulnerable to damage. Read on to learn how surface roots can affect the health of your tree.
Read More
Root Crown Excavatoin 2
Soil Care & Mulching

Removing Tree Roots Above Ground: Will It Harm Or Kill The Tree?

Winter is coming, and it’s the best time to safely prune the roots of your tree. Learn how above ground roots can be cut without hurting your tree
Read More

Sign Up For Free Tree & Landscaping Tips! 

Subscribe to the "The Sapling," the Davey Blog's email newsletter, for the latest tips to keep your outdoor space in tip-top shape throughout the year.

Plus, receive a free instant download of our landscape seasonal checklists when you sign up!

Get In Touch With Us!

We pride ourselves at Davey Tree on providing prompt, professional and personalized service from certified arborists that live, work and engage in your community. Contact one of our Davey Tree specialists for your residential, commercial, utility, or environmental needs.

Let's Find What
You're Looking For!

Davey uses cookies to make your experience a great one by providing us analytics so we can offer you the most relevant content. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies. View our Privacy Policy for more information.