Trees are supposed to provide our homes with shade and beauty. But what happens when their roots start to grow out of control?
Big roots can be a real problem for homeowners. Tree roots can cause damage to your foundation, sidewalks, and other parts of your property. If you have large tree roots on your property, it is important that you get them removed right away.
However, if you are not careful, you could kill your tree along with the roots. We’ll explain the best way to remove big roots from your yard and keep them from causing any more trouble in the future. Or if the job is too big to handle on your own, you can give us a call at United Tree Care.
When To Remove a Tree Root
It can be tempting to remove tree roots that simply aren’t aesthetically pleasing. However, it is important to remember that the roots are how your trees absorb water and nutrients. They need their roots to survive!
Because of this, try to limit how many roots you remove from your home. If you have a very unsightly root that is lowering your property value, then try to selectively remove just that root. However, we recommend prioritizing removing roots that are dangerous. This includes:
- Roots growing into cement, contaminated water, or low-quality soil, which can be damaging to your tree.
- Roots growing into your home, your pipes, or other infrastructure, which can be damaging to you and your property.
- Roots growing into your sidewalks or over a play area for children in your yard, which can be dangerous to you and your neighbors.
Tips for Removing Tree Roots
Before you start removing tree roots from your property, keep these tips in mind. This will help you to maintain your tree’s health.
Don’t Get Too Close to The Tree
The closer you get to the tree, the more at risk your tree becomes of being damaged. The trunk is the base of your tree and is what keeps it stable. We recommend that you measure the diameter of your tree trunk. You can measure it with a stake or with spray paint.
Then, take that number and multiply it by three. That’s how many feet away you should start the root removal process. This is the closest distance you should start digging or cutting.
Don’t Pick The Largest Tree Roots
Avoid removing the largest roots if you possibly can. These are called structural roots. Structural roots begin at the tree’s base and tend to flare out as they get further from the tree. It’s important to not remove these structural roots because they’re what keep your tree standing tall and in place.
Don’t Remove Too Many Tree Roots
You do not want to remove more than twenty percent of your tree’s roots. Remember: your tree needs its roots to survive and absorb nutrients! Wait at least three years between removing roots if you have many that you need to get rid of. This gives your tree time to recover. If you remove too many roots too quickly, you run the risk of killing the tree.
How To Remove Tree Roots
A tree root can be a dangerous nuisance when it’s encroaching on your property. Luckily, there are many different ways to remove the offending tree roots from your soil without causing any harm to the trees or hedges that they support.
Digging Up The Tree Roots
You’ll need to dig a bit to access the tree roots. Be sure to dig a safe distance away from the tree. This way, you’ll avoid damaging the base. You can use a digging shovel, a spade, or a trenching shovel for this part of the process depending on the size of the tree roots. Spades are great for more delicate, fragile tree roots.
Once you’ve dug up the spot and measured your tree trunk’s diameter, we recommend marking the spot. This way, you know exactly where to cut without causing damage. You can then use gardening scissors or gardening shears to cut smaller roots. For larger roots, you can use a mechanical reciprocating saw.
Once you’ve carefully cut along the root and removed it, you’ll need to place a root barrier. This way, the root won’t be able to grow back. You should install the root barrier at least 30 inches below the soil. You can then fill the hole with fertilizer or mulch.
Using Chemicals to Treat The Roots
There are two ways you can treat tree roots chemically: with rock salt or with a chemical herbicide.
How To Treat With Rock Salt
This process can take a few months since it’s a more natural option. Be prepared for multiple applications. To treat your tree roots with rock salt:
- Drill some holes into your tree stump. They should be about four inches deep.
- Drill holes into any exposed tree roots on the ground. These should also be about three to four inches deep.
- Fill each hole with rock salt.
- Add water to the holes in the stump and exposed roots. It should cover the hole without spilling over.
- Do this several times over the course of the next few months.
This process works by denying the tree roots of any water, which eventually kills them.
How To Treat With Chemical Herbicide
To treat tree roots with chemical herbicides:
- Cut across your tree’s stump with a saw.
- Saturate the tree’s outer layer with water to help distribute herbicide.
- Mix glyphosate herbicide with water.
- Saturate the outer ring of your tree stump with the herbicide. You can use a garden sprayer for this.
Treating your roots with chemical herbicide should take about two to three weeks to completely kill the roots.
Using A Stump Grinder
If you have recently cut down a tree, then you may need to rent a stump grinder (which can cost anywhere from $100 to $400). When using a stump grinder, make sure you are wearing protective gear. You will need to wear long pants, a long sleeve shirt, headgear, and safety glasses. This is because a lot of debris kicks back!
You will first need to use a chainsaw to trim the tree trunk. The goal is to get the trunk as close to the ground level as possible. Then, you will dig up any debris or rocks to protect the stump grinder. Drive the grinder on your stump and begin the grinding process. You may need to grind up to four inches. Once you’re done stump grinding, use a shovel to dig your tree roots up. Then, treat the area with mulch or the excess wood chips until it becomes part of your yard.
Let Our North Virginia Tree Company Do The Work For You
Trees are beautiful and serve as an important part of our ecosystem, but they can also be problematic when they grow too close to your home or require removal for other reasons. It is often necessary to have a professional remove the tree from your property and dispose of it properly.
So if you are still feeling unsure, give us a call at United Tree Care. We’ve been offering tree care services to Northern Virginia neighborhoods for over thirty years. We can remove big tree roots from your property without causing any damage to your trees.
While you can use a stump grinder yourself, we have professional equipment that is stronger than what you can find available for homeowners. At United Tree Care, we only use top-of-the-line gear that is well-maintained. You can be sure that we are only using the best of the best when working on your landscaping! Our professional tree care experts are licensed and insured in the state of Virginia.
We offer stump removal, stump grinding, and tree removal services in and around the Manassas, VA area. Call us today for a free estimate to have your roots removed, and ask about our military and senior discounts.