exposed tree roots in lawn

Discussion in 'Woody Plants' started by Loulou, Oct 17, 2008.

  1. Loulou

    Loulou Member

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    Can anyone tell me if it is ok or 'normal' to have tree roots coming up through the lawn? The trees in question are very old, 50 feet high at least, cedars and black locust.

    I want to know if I should be putting more earth on my lawn so that the roots are covered over. The other question is - can I just cut the exposed roots out?
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Raising the level of the turf is the better of the two ideas.
     
  3. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    If you're in Delta, you're probably either "up top" on a hill with a bunch of clay; or "down below" on the drained land. It seems to me that roots find the level that suits them, or grow in what is available.

    For example in Walnut Grove Langley & areas of Coquitlam (that I have observed) there are quite a few street & garden trees with exposed roots that get scalped by the lawnmower. I have seen in Walnut Grove that the topsoil installed by the original developers is shallow over a heavy & impenetrable/impervious clay. (Side note: That is why this area could be developed, because the soils were shallow & poor, & it was not in the the ALR) So, the roots run along the top. Building up the soil around these trees gradually in thin layers sems to help. I agree with Ron B.

    In other houses I have observed in areas with a high water table, the roots run along the top to stay up out of the water. In this case I would suggest drainage, but where can you drain to when the land is flat as a pancake & the water table's high? That's the thing.

    Do not chop the roots, unless you are REALLY sure that the bulk of the roots are down in the ground. Consult an arborist. Them's what holds the tree vertical when the wind blows. You wouldn't pull the tent pegs out around your tent in a gale, eh?

    Do not dump a couple of feet of soil on the roots. They might not like being suddenly smothered (another sin of some developers) & turn the plant equivalent of blue in the face - which might be yellow in the leaves.

    ...A random opinion from the wilds of the Fraser Valley.

    gb
     
  4. Loulou

    Loulou Member

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    Hey Ron B and Glass Brain -

    Thanks for your opinions. Yes, I agree it seems more sensible to layer some soil on top of the exposed roots.

    I think these large cedar trees (about 50ft high) are riparian - which I believe means their normal habit is to run roots along the surface or near surface and gain water or moisture in that way.

    In my situation I am close to the top of a hill and the soil is sort of gravelly with reddish brown clay. When we have heavy rains the water just runs right over these roots to the next lower level yard and so on.

    Do you have any ideas of what sort of soil to add? Or would I add sod? I have a shady yard and under these 8 large cedars it is very hard to keep grass growing. In fact I seem to have a mixture of some grass with a large amount of various mosses.
     
  5. Branching Out

    Branching Out Member

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    Perhaps you might try putting down bark mulch.
     
  6. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    Add 2-3" layer of topsoil or compost yearly. Bark Mulch is good too, but a can be like "mystery-meat" - you need to know what is in it. Quizz the local garden stores/suppliers.

    Encourage the moss & ferns, & look for ornamental understory plants that thrive in an acidic shady environment. The local garden centres will know what you mean. Trying to maintain a lawn in the shade under Thuja plicata is a mug's game. Terrace the ground formally or informally to slow the water down & discourage surface runoff. Suitable shrubs will really help that too.

    They sound like lovely trees, I'm jealous. You can make these kind of areas lovely with plants that are suited & in the end it's a lot less work than fighting the Cedars!


    gb
     
  7. Loulou

    Loulou Member

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    Hey gb Thanks for those ideas!
    .
    What I do have in a sort of edged area under or near those cedars are some hostas, aucuba, astilbe and daylilies. I have to admit the astilbe has not done much of anything in a few years, in fact just vanished at times, due I think to weevils. I wonder if it is in the wrong place to thrive. As for the daylilies they are mostly just a big bunch of green leaves lying down on the ground (are we supposed to cut those long leaves of daylilies back to the root at this time of year?) - no flowering this year at all. Also maybe the wrong spot?

    I have a couple years ago planted tulips and daffodils and baby irises near the area, nothing ever came up. What does thrive over there is periwinkle and ivy. Also tried azaleas - they flowered one year and then nothing and now just brittle branches. So sad!

    Do you have any ideas? Also I have planted some irises in big pots, once again nothing but leaves...no bloom this year. In fact one of the corms is completely eaten out - like just a shell of the outer skin of the corm is left! What gives??

    Appreciate your help.L.
     
  8. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    Irises, tulips, daffs & many other ornamentals need a fair amount of sun. Look online or in a book from your local library for a plant list for the Pac. NW for shade plants. Hostas are a good one...but I personally detest them. Lilies need some sun & you may have old fashioned "ditch lilies" which are tough, but boring if they don't flower.

    Aim for 3 levels -ground covers, understory shrubs & the big trees.

    Some natives are good candidates. Take a walk in a GVRD park & look what grows locally in this kind of spot.
    Huckleberry, Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum), Vine Maple. Moss, moss & moss. All of which I consider highly ornamental. Chuck a few big rocks around & you can have fun making a Japanesey look.
    Wild Ginger (Asarum caudatum), Rodgersia & Epimedium come to mind as better ground covers than Vinca which can be very agressive.
    Trilliums! Sweet Cicely.
    Snitch a few Piggy Back Plants (Tolmaeia menzesii) from a local patch of bush & they will self-seed. Just rip up the ones you don't want & leave some to grow in corners.
    Deer Fern (Blechnum spicant) & Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum).
    Corydalis for yellow. Im[patiens for annuals,. Begonias tuberous & fibrous.

    ...I ran out of ideas.

    gb
     
  9. Loulou

    Loulou Member

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    Thanks a lot gb - appreciate your thoughts.
    Now I have to go look up the english equivalent of those latin names.
     
  10. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    Come on! Try using the Botanical names - lends a delightful air of mystery & knowledge to one's conversation...It's cool. It's trendy (& more accurate & useful).

    gb
     

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