5 Reasons Why Tree Roots Come To The Surface

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If you ever notice an exposed tree root while walking on your lawn, never leave it unattended. Even though it may seem like a minor annoyance, it reveals a much deeper issue.

Not only roots that have made their way to the surface are a sign of a shallow-rooted tree that is aging, but they can also indicate improper care and maintenance. Being a responsible homeowner, you might wonder, ‘why do tree roots come to the surface.’

Hence, I will list a few reasons for this significant phenomenon and what you can do to help your tree grow, thrive, and preserve. In this article, you will better understand why trees develop surface roots and what it tells about the tree’s overall Health.

After that, we will look at some solutions to help you manage and maintain the surfaced roots to keep your yard & tree looking healthy and beautiful for many years.

5 Reasons Why Do Tree Roots Come To The Surface? 

I highly recommend you understand why your tree roots are coming to the surface or on the ground, as it can indicate poor soil condition or improper maintenance. Below I am mentioning a few of the most common reasons tree roots come to the ground. 

  1. Due to heavy rain, your lawn may get soil washed away from around a tree’s roots keeping its roots exposed. It is a common natural phenomenon frequently noticed in rainforests and trees living on high mountains that experience strong winds.
  2. If the soil around your tree’s roots becomes compacted, it can be difficult for roots to penetrate deeper into the ground and absorb the necessary water & nutrients the tree needs to thrive. As a result, your tree roots may grow closer to the surface. This is usually a sign of poor care and maintenance. Therefore I recommend treating the compacted soil to help its root penetrate better into the ground and absorb the essential nutrients it needs to thrive.
  3. If you’ve planted your tree too deeply or in soil that is not well-draining, its roots will likely come to the surface. 
  4. Maybe you have mistakenly planted one of the Shallow-rooted species in your yard. Some trees, like silver and Freeman maples, willows, and lindens, are naturally shallow-rooted. If you have one of these species, expect to see more roots coming to the surface.
  5. Lastly, your tree roots may also come to the surface of poor soil conditions. This usually happens when the soil is low in oxygen but high in moisture.

Can Surface Tree Roots Be Removed?

Yes, you can remove the tree roots to a certain extent if you want them to give your yard an aesthetic appearance… It will also help reduce trip hazards but may also stress the tree.

Since roots also play a huge role in stabilizing your tree’s growth, removing them will compromise the tree’s ability to absorb water and nutrients properly. In addition, y have to repeatedly remove the roots coming to the surface because some species are known to regrow their roots continuously and quickly.

This is why it is always better to understand the advantages and disadvantages of removing surface tree roots to understand better should do what would be appropriate.

Advantages of Removing Surface Tree Roots

For anyone, Surface roots can be unsightly, especially when they come out to the surface in the middle of your lawn. Therefore, you can consider removing those roots to improve the appearance of your yard.

Apart from this, if your property’s roots are very prominent, they can pose a trip hazard, especially when walking on your lawn barefoot. Therefore you might consider removing it to help reduce this trip hazard risk.

But before you start removing the surface tree roots, you should know the consequences. I don’t need to tell you that roots are an essential part of trees that play a crucial role in maintaining their Health and growth.

Therefore, learning what would happen if you remove the surface roots will help you better assess the problem and decide what to do.

Disadvantage Of Removing Surface Tree Roots

Firstly, If you consider cutting the roots, you are doing nothing but putting your tree to understand its growth. I recommend that you avoid removing the surface tree roots to prevent making your tree more susceptible to diseases and pests.

Besides that, you are doing nothing other than compromising your tree’s Health and ability to absorb water & nutrients, which will hurt its Health. It may also lead the tree to die if it fails to repeat the root regeneration process.

In addition to that, some tree species are known to have extensive root systems that increase. Therefore, removing the roots may mean you must repeat the process in the upcoming season.

If I were at your place, I would have considered covering the roots with soil or mulch and letting the tree grow and thrive.

How To Get Rid Of Surface Tree Roots? 

If you’ve surface tree roots causing issues, you could try a few different methods to get rid of them. However, it would be best never to forget that removing seeds can be risky. Thus it is better always to outweigh the upsides and downsides first. If you cannot determine if you should get rid of the surface tree root, I will advise you to consult a professional before taking action. 

5 Ways To Rid Of Tree Roots That Come To The Surface 

Top Dressing

Here you need to cover your tree roots with a layer of soil and grass seed to give it an aesthetic or appealing look. This solution is the most effective solution that helps eliminate tree root sites that come to the surface and let the route continue growing. Many trees have been seen resurfacing a few years down the line.

Root Pruning

Experts and I recommend you consider pruning the tree root to help it grow and thrive. However, ensure only to prune the roots using the correct type of pruning tool in a manageable size. Improper pruning can cause adverse effects on your tree also. In addition, you may also end up pruning your tree too much at once, which can stress out your tree.


I have seen many people encasing the roots in a mulch bed. Believe it or not, mulching can be an effective way to hide them and help your tree absorb water & nutrients. Ensure you’re not mulching too deep, as this will suffocate your tree roots, causing them to rot/die. 

Root Barrier

You can consider installing a physical barrier like a plastic root barrier to keep your tree healthy and prevent it from damaging any particular structure.

A physical barrier is an effective solution to prevent the roots from growing into specific areas, especially if your three sources are causing damage to sidewalks, driveways, or other hardscaping elements.

Tree Removal 

Some trees tend to have invasive roots that grow extensively and rapidly. If this is the case, I recommend you consider removing that particular tree entirely from your property to prevent further damage. Even though this is a drastic step, it becomes essential if the tree is diseased or unhealthy also if the roots are causing significant damage to your / neighbors’ property.

Can You Cut Surface Roots Of Trees?

You can always cut the surface root of trees if you have decided to remove them after weighing the pros and cons. However, ensure you follow proper safety precautions and best practices to cut down the three surfaces rule. Below I am giving you a simple step-by-step method for cutting the surface roots of a tree in an easy-to-understand format.

How To Cut Surface Tree Roots? 

  1. Before you start cutting the surface roots, it’s essential to know the tree species of which sources are to be removed. As I told you earlier, some trees have shallow roots, and cutting them will adversely affect your tree’s Health and stability.
  2. It would be best if you only considered cutting roots less than 5 cm in diameter. If your tree roots are more extensive, I recommend you consult a professional arborist.
  3. Ensure you also avoid cutting roots close to the tree’s trunk. Cutting routes close to your tree trunk will pose severe hazards and damage your tree’s structural integrity.
  4. Experts and I recommend you use a sharp, clean saw or a tree pruning shear that monty don recommends for precise cuts. It is essential to use pure and intense pruning shear to prevent the risk of disease transmission and promote healing.
  5. After cutting the roots, you must seal the wounds with a tree wound sealer. This is a crucial step that you should follow to protect your tree from disease and decay.

After doing this, continuously monitor your tree’s Health and growth and look for signs of stress, like wilting or yellowing leaves. I will also recommend having proper arborist consultation if anything in your tree’s Health is inappropriate.

Generally, I advise you to avoid cutting any tree roots that come to the surface. Instead, it would be best to consider covering it using mulch or decorating it using landscaping elements for better sight.

You can find many types of soil topdressing ideas and designs shared all over the internet. If you do need to cut roots, make sure to follow the steps that I have mentioned above to minimize the risk of damaging the tree.


What Causes Tree Roots To Come To The Surface?

Your tree roots can come to the surface due to erosion, compacted soil, improper planting, and lack of moisture. Maybe your tree is trying to seek out sources of water and nutrients by extending and growing its root above the surface.

Is It Safe To Cut Surface Tree Roots?

It is safe to cut tree roots for you, but not for your tree. Cutting the surface tree root can adversely affect your tree’s Health. I recommend you consult a professional for better assessment.

How To Keep Tree Roots From Coming To The Surface?

To prevent tree roots from coming to the surface, consider the best possible practices, such as proper planting, providing adequate moisture, avoiding compacting soil, and mulching around the base.

Can Tree Roots Cause Damage To Surfaces Like Driveways & sidewalks?

If left unaddressed, tree roots can cause damage to surfaces like driveways and sidewalks. Some specific fees are known to have invasive three seeds that can grow over 100 feet from their trunk. They can grow under and lift concrete, causing cracks and other damage.


If a property has a lot of freezes, it is not uncommon to notice a few extending its root over the surface. It is a common issue most homeowners face due to erosion, compacted soil, improper planting, etc.

But before you try any method to remove the surface tree root, I recommend you consider the pros and cons first. It is always best to leave this decision up to the professional because cutting a tree root can harm the tree’s Health and compromise its ability to absorb water nutrients from the soil properly.

If you want to prevent tree roots from surfacing in the first place, I recommend you to follow and implement practical tips & best practices like proper planting and soil maintenance.

Start my best to give you all the information you need to learn about the question, ‘why do tree roots come to the surface’ If you find the article helpful, then consider sharing it. Your share will help many people learn about the consequences of cutting surface tree roots.

Check our other helpful guide on tree care and management along with the posy on the importance of arborist consultation. See you in the next post, till then take care and goodbye.