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Dealing with Surface Tree Roots

Tired of mowing over tree roots?  I have a solution to make your life easier and keep your trees healthier. 

Surface roots are important to the health and stability of your tree.  Here are some things you should not do.

Never bury the roots.  As little as an inch of topsoil over the root system can kill some trees. Your tree may look fine the first few years, but eventually the leaves get smaller and drop earlier in the fall.  And after 5 or 10 years the tree may die.

Never chop off the surface roots.  This can impact the stability of the tree and create entryways for insects and disease.

Instead try mulching the area with a 2 to 3 inch layer of woodchips or shredded bark.  These organic mulches conserve moisture, improve the soil and eliminate mowing headaches.

Or use shade tolerant groundcovers carefully planted in the existing soil between the surface roots. Mulch and water new plantings as needed.

A bit more information:  Deadnettle (Lamium), barrenwort (Epimedium), and Canadian ginger (Asarum) are a few groundcovers that tolerate dry shade.  The colorful leaves of shade tolerant coral bells (Heuchera), foam flowers (Tiarella) and hosta make these great choices to plant under your trees.

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NARI Milwaukee
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Oct. 26

Webinar: Year-round Perennial
Garden Maintenance


Nov. 2
Webinar: Boosting the Beauty of
and Propagating Houseplants


June 3 – 11, 2023
“Castles & Gardens” Adventure in Ireland with Melinda Myers
Includes the Bloom Festival in Dublin!

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