Will Cutting Tree Roots Kill the Tree in Tualatin, OR?

Trees offer countless benefits to our yards and lives. They provide shade, clean the air, shelter wildlife, and boost curb appeal. Unfortunately, they also sometimes cause problems.

If a mature tree in your yard has expansive or exposed roots, you may be worried about foundation damage or lifted sidewalks. You may wonder, “Will cutting tree roots kill the tree?” 

In this post, Tualatin’s tree service contractor answers common questions about the effects of cutting tree roots.

will cutting tree roots kill the tree

Problems Tree Roots Can Cause

Tree roots are opportunistic, growing in any way necessary to ensure survival. Sometimes, that means into your lawn, around your pipes, and up through cracks in the pavement.

When tree roots grow where you don’t want them to, they can do the following:

  • Buckle or crack sidewalks and driveways
  • Ruin lawnmowers or other landscaping equipment
  • Pose a trip hazard to people walking by
  • Block sewer pipes
  • Damage your building foundation
  • Affect the appearance of your lawn

Dangers of Cutting Tree Roots

When a branch grows too close to the house or too low to the ground, you can prune it. But is the same true of the root system, or will cutting the roots kill the tree? The short answer is maybe. The slightly longer answer is not if it is done correctly and carefully (and usually with the help of a professional).

Improper tree root pruning consequences include the following:

  • Poor health: Trees depend on their root system for minerals, water, and other nutrients. After root cutting, tree health may suffer, resulting in yellow leaves and stunted growth. 
  • Increased instability: Roots don’t just provide nutrients; they also provide structure. Cutting too much or cutting the wrong root can weaken the structure, making it more likely to fall.
  • Disease and pests: When you cut into a tree, you open an entry point for insects and fungal infections. In addition, root pruning can stress a tree, making it more vulnerable.

How To Handle Exposed or Excessive Tree Roots

The following can help you minimize or avoid the impact of tree root cutting:

  • Take other measures: If you are mainly concerned about visible tree roots, you have a few options. Adding a thin layer of mulch or planting ground cover (not grass) conceals and protects the roots. Aerating compacted soil can also help roots grow properly. 
  • Cut carefully: If pruning tree roots yourself, you can reduce the risks by proceeding cautiously. Don’t prune roots over two inches wide, and never remove roots close to the trunk. Pruning in winter (or early spring) and removing no more than 15% of exposed roots at once can also help.
  • Call an arborist: The best way to manage root pruning and tree survival is to contact a licensed tree specialist. They can help you remove roots without damaging the tree or nearby structures. 

Need Help Cutting Tree Roots Safely? Contact Us! 

Now that we’ve answered your question, “Will cutting tree roots kill the tree?” Evergreen Tree Services is standing by for all your tree care needs in Tualatin, OR. Contact us today at 503-625-4595 for a free estimate.

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