Big tree with roots exposed
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Make Landscaping Around Tree Roots Easier With These Clever Tips
Tree roots may become exposed when the soil is compacted and erosion occurs or if the tree doesn't have enough space to grow. However, it’s crucial to protect their roots.
The roots absorb oxygen, water, and nutrients from the soil, so never use a shovel, spade, pickaxe, or rototiller near the tree, and never prune, cut, or chop the tree roots.
Don’t dump a load of topsoil over the roots, as this could kill the tree — the roots need to breathe. You can add a ½ inch soil and cover it with 2 to 3 inches organic mulch.
Mulch doesn’t cut off oxygen, so for young trees, place it 3 to 5 inches away from the trunk, and for mature trees, 8 to 10 inches from the trunk up to the canopy drip line.
Don’t grow turf grass. Try vinca minor, pachysandra, lily of the valley, lungwort, creeping jenny, ferns, liriope, purple heart, ajuga, or sweet woodruff amid the roots.
Dig tiny holes while avoiding the roots. If you dig a hole and run into a root, refill it and move to a new spot. Water the ground cover and add organic mulch around the area.
Insert the new plants carefully to avoid disturbing the soil and roots. The plants’ small roots help to aerate the soil, allowing the tree roots to absorb more oxygen.
Try the Clzoud Garden Trowel to remove grass and weeds; the Fiskars Ergo Hand Tool Kit with trowel and pointed-nose transplanter; and the Husky Bulb Planter to dig precision holes.
Shallow Roots
Pick plants whose roots don’t grow deep. A shallow layer of soil and a few inches of mulch will support ground covers, bulbs, some perennials, and flowering annuals.
Snowdrops, cyclamen, and crocuses do well around tree roots. Perennial coral bells, hellebore, woodland phlox, as well as annual pansies, vincas, impatiens, and coleus also work.