How Deep Do Tree Roots Go? A Guide for Lake Oswego Homeowners

Most homeowners understand that large trees have complex root systems beneath the surface, but just how deep do tree roots go? Understanding the depth of tree root systems and the factors affecting tree root depth can help ensure your trees have the right environment to thrive. Below, our tree experts from Evergreen Tree Services, Lake Oswego’s best tree service, discuss everything you need to know about underground tree root extension averages. 

How Long Are Tree Roots?

Before we get into tree root depth, we need to talk a bit about tree anatomy so you can have a better understanding of how roots anchor trees. At the base of every tree, you can typically see a root collar protruding from the ground. From there, roots spread out underground, more horizontally than vertically. 

Many people measure root length in comparison with the tree’s drip line, which is the circumference of the tree’s canopy. Some trees have roots that spread out to equal the drip line, while many spread to 1.5 times the drip line or more. In some environments with some species of trees, the roots may spread as far as eight times the drip line. 

Because roots spread far to anchor the tree sturdily in place, you will rarely find significant root anchorage depth levels, despite how long roots can get. A root could be 40 feet long, but that does not mean it is 40 feet deep. 

How Deep Can Tree Roots Grow?

We know how wide root systems can spread, so let’s get back to the question at hand: How deep do tree roots go? On average, trees tend only to explore the first two to six feet of soil depth. In rare cases, tree root exploration depth can reach as high as 20 feet, but this depends on many factors. 

Factors Affecting Tree Root Depths

Tree root penetration depth typically depends on the following:

  • Nearby trees: Crowded soils create competition, causing trees to potentially grow downward rather than outward. 
  • Soil conditions: Roots grow where they find nutrition. For example, they may grow wide if the soil has a shallow bedrock level.
  • Climate conditions: In dryer climates, you may find thicker roots that grow deeper in the soil to seek water sources.  
  • Urban barriers: In urban areas, issues such as barriers, cement walls, and more can block roots in certain directions, forcing them to grow down or out. 

Why Are Healthy Root Systems Important?

Trees require nutrient-dense soil and space to thrive. Without these two factors, their roots may not grow properly, affecting a tree’s health in the long run. As a property owner, you must think about the strength of your tree roots, as poorly anchored trees can create hazards. 

Support Root Health By Choosing Evergreen Tree Services

Now that you know the answer to “How deep do tree roots go?” you can evaluate the trees in your yard. If you think you have issues with poor soil nutrition or overcrowding, call Evergreen Tree Services today at (503) 625-4595 to schedule deep fertilization or an evaluation. 

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