did I kill my tree?

This Sunday, my husband and I decided to dig up a row of prickly bushes planted 10 feet away from the property line. They were planted perpendicular to a tree (I think a maple) which is about 60 feet tall and turns yellow in the fall, with yellow/green flowers on it now. We want to plant grass there since the bushes broke up our property which goes back 40 feet and the bushes just took up 4 feet with dirt. Plus my son almost ran into these bushes which were full of thorns.
When we were digging out these bushes we sawed through some roots which in hindsight were from the tree. One was pretty big and there were a three or foor that were an inch in diameter. Today, I realized what we had done and after looking on the net, I realized we might have killed the tree.
Is there anything to do to save the tree? Can we plant grass there now that we dug up the bushes?
Any and all advice would be great.
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roch_mom wrote:

Pruning the tree might reduce its water requirements. I dunno. Maybe an arborist is reading the group?
Carl
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If you only cut off a few roots and the biggest was only 1 inch in diameter you probably did not harm your 60 foot tree. I would not plant grass under the tree however. In all likely hood the tree will suck up all the available water and shade the grass and then it (the grass) will struggle or die.
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Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
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There is a good chance that you have severely weakened the tree. It's questionable whether it will survive, and for how long. You can just wait and see what happens.
Sherwin D.
roch_mom wrote:

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if you dug out on one side of the tree and only went a couple feet deep I dont think this will harm the tree. just make sure there is no "new dirt" on top of the root zone... and be sure to water that tree well this year... out at the drip line. maybe give it a couple spikes of fertilizer out at the drip line too. Ingrid

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Ingrid's right, there shouldn't be a problem so long as you cut only a few root that were an inch or so in diameter..
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wrote:

I agree this probably did little harm, but we don't know enough to say for sure. How close to the tree was the large root severed? How large was it? If you cut a major structural root within a foot or two of the trunk, you may have valid concerns. If you cut only one large root a few feet away from the trunk, you needn't worry. And a few 1" roots are pretty insignificant to a tree this size (would you freak out if someone cut a few 1"-diameter branches?).
The concern isn't so much for the lost root as for the lost anchoring support it provided. If, in fact, you cut too big a root too close to the trunk, you may have made it structurally unsound and prone to toppling away from the cut. I really doubt you did this much harm, but you should be aware of the possibility.
I do not thnk you will help matters with a fertilizer spike. If you want to mitigate the root loss, just make sure the soil in the area of the loss is adequately watered. If it is dry, go for a long, slow soaking over the entire lawn.
And don't add grass around the base of the tree. Maintain a mulch zone 3 inches deep (not piled against the base of the tree) over as large an area as you are willing. Minimum, give a foot or two of buffer all the way around the tree. Ideally, give a foot diameter of mulch zone per inch of trunk diameter (measure 4.5 feet above grade).
good luck, Keith Babberney ISA Certified Arborist #TX-0236AT
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