Is it healthy or safe to ever cut tree roots?

That tree is getting awfully close to the house… those roots might burrow under the foundation and ruin the house. Is is safe to cut just the roots?

This is a very common question is important to know the rules and safety guidelines when it comes to cutting roots. You should only cut tree roots if it’s absolutely necessary. There are some situations where cutting a tree’s roots can be warranted but there are exceptions.

If the tree is growing too large for the yard in which it’s located, if it’s growing too close to the foundation of your home, or if there’s some damage to the roots that’s causing damage to the rest of the tree. If you’re only doing it for aesthetic purposes, it’s probably not a good idea.

When we examine cutting tree roots we want to trace it back to the trunk of the tree and determine if it is one of the larger roots. If it is a large root, cutting it could damage the tree. If it’s a smaller root depending on the size of the tree, it can usually be removed without any major issues.

We also want to determine the best place to cut the root. You don’t want to just start hacking away at the root any old place. You want to measure the diameter of the trunk and then multiply that number by eight. This will represent the closest place in inches where you can safely cut the root. Cutting the root any closer could have seriously damaging effects to the tree.

We want to first dig out the soil from around the root in the place we want to cut. Using a root saw (yes, there really is such a thing), we want to mark where we need to cut the root or use loppers or pruning shears if the root is small enough. We typically will use a stump grinder whenever we are chasing roots that are close to the house. This does not remove the root entirely but rather takes it back to a distance that is safer away from the foundation, fence or whatever is being protected. Once we’ve cut the root, we want to pull the root away from the trunk using a shovel or a spade to make it easier until the entire root is out of the trench.

You want to fill it in with either sod, mulch, or rocks depending on the landscaping and then cover with grass if necessary.

It’s important to monitor the tree after the roots have been cut. If you’re noticing dead branches or the tree starts to lean, this could be a sign of some serious damage.

If you choose to hire a tree service company to take care of this we will do absolutely everything possible to ensure the health and safety of not only the tree but surrounding structures and the landscape as well.

So, don’t just go hacking up those roots if they are inching towards your foundation to take the proper precautions and call professional if necessary.