I'm digging a trench about 1 foot deep for a fence. The trench at one
point is about 10 feet from a large sugar maple. The trunk is about 3
feet in diameter.
I'm seeing some large roots that are very close to the surface - maybe
only a few inches below the soil surface. These roots are 3 or 4
inches in diameter.
A year or two ago when I started the trench I had to cut one or two
large roots and I didn't see any branches die or leafs wilt and fall
off. The trench is now at the closest point to the tree (10 feet) and
I'm wondering if I can cut 3 more of these large roots. The soil they
are in is clay (hard as concrete) if it matters.
I can't believe that the roots for this tree are so close to the
surface. Do sugar maples have deeper roots as well as these shallow
(please post responses - this e-mail is bogus)
The tree won't die immediately, but rest assured that cutting (several)
roots that size /will/ do irreversable damage to the tree, and shorten it's
Almost all trees have shallow root systems, especially in heavier soils.
They aren't mirror images of what you see above ground. Think about it. How
much oxygen do you think can get to the roots, more than a couple feet
below the surface, again especially in heavier soils?
I'm curious as to what kind of fence you're installing, that requires a
trench, as opposed to post holes. If you can get through the area by only
digging holes for the posts, you'd be better off. I'd be willing to bet
that if you continue with the trench, cutting 3-4 more large roots (and the
entire feeder system behind the cuts), you'll lose the tree within a
decade. You'll also have to deal with a large area of fungi growing in the
area, as the dead root systems decay.
IMO, I'd avoid doing any more serious damage to the tree.
-There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
I would have thought that water supply was a more important function
for the roots than air supply.
Presumably the roots need air for their own needs, and not to
transport it up into the trunk, branches and leaves - in which case
paving over the roots is of more concern than cutting them (as far as
It's a concrete sound wall (about 2-3 inches thick) but it requires a
shallow foundation between posts. The posts have been in place for
several years (6" x 6" spruce, set into 12" concrete piers, spaced 10
I'd really like to not have to cut these roots, but they are too
shallow and I can't form the footing with them there, even if I modify
the design. I wonder if I could tap into the root with a connector
and attach a water line and feed water directly into the root?
Even covering shallow (or above ground) roots with soil, is bad. The roots
have established themselves that shallow for a reason. When you place them
deeper by covering them up (with anything), you shorten the life of the
tree. Maybe the results won't show for years, but they'll evenually show.
Things planted deep, rot.
Ahh, you didn't say "wall"; you said, "fence".
There's a big difference between a 'fence' and a 'wall'. With a fence, you
could alter the span of a post or two, and get away with it. Something as
heavy as a 'concrete sound wall' most likely needs support it's entire
length. Sounds like someone missed something, during the planning stages.
If the design can't be altered to save the tree, it may not be salvageable.
All you can do is put up the wall and hope for the best.
That may just shorten the life of the tree. It's not the large root that
collects the water. It just transports it. All the little tiny roots that
you severed are the ones that "get" the food/water/gas. By "injecting" the
larger root with water, you're just hastening the rot.
Who knows? The tree may last you another 40 years. It may also only last
you 4. All you can do is try and provide it with it's needs, and hope
mother nature doesn't deal you a blow that puts additional stress on the
-Two aerial antennas meet on a roof, fall in love get married. The ceremony
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.