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
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.
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.
Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8
if you dug out on one side of the tree and only went a couple feet deep I dont
this will harm the tree. just make sure there is no "new dirt" on top of the
zone... and be sure to water that tree well this year... out at the drip line.
give it a couple spikes of fertilizer out at the drip line too. Ingrid
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Zone 5 next to Lake Michigan
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).
ISA Certified Arborist #TX-0236AT
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