Root Pruning: Considerations and Concerns

Roots are obviously important to trees. They help anchor trees and keep them upright, as well as draw water from the ground. They even help to moderate the temperatures of trees a bit, and they serve as sugar storage sights during times of plenty. Tree roots even benefit the surrounding ecosystem, as they help to prevent erosion and disturb compacted soils.

But roots can also cause problems. Shallow roots can become trip hazards, ruin the aesthetics of your otherwise-well-manicured lawn, or even make life difficult for the other plants growing in the area. They can even damage sidewalks, house foundations and utility lines.

In these cases, some homeowners consider pruning such problematic tree roots. But while this is occasionally a viable solution, it is imperative that you proceed carefully to prevent the tree from declining once you’re finished. We’ll talk about a few of the most important things to think about when considering root pruning below.

As a general rule, younger trees make better candidates for root pruning than older trees do. Not only do younger trees have younger (and therefore smaller) roots, they are also at a point in their lives in which they are primed to produce new roots. In fact, root pruning is routinely performed on outdoor-grown trees before they’re dug up and packaged for sale.

Mature trees can have their root systems pruned when necessary, but you’ll need to make sure that you proceed very prudently.

The closer a root is to a tree’s trunk, the more likely it is to play a significant role in the tree’s stability. These roots also serve as important carbohydrate storage sights. This means that cutting the large, woody roots near a tree could affect the tree’s stability and prevent the tree from accessing resources it may need to cope with the loss of a large root.


If you need help caring for the roots of your trees, or you think root pruning may be necessary, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. One of our ISA-certified arborists will visit your property, inspect the tree and roots in question, and recommend an appropriate plan of action. As you can see, root pruning is not to be taken lightly, and you’ll want to get some professional guidance before you start cutting through the roots of the trees in your yard.