Magnolia root damaging path

Discussion in 'Magnoliaceae' started by Foucart, Sep 15, 2006.

  1. Foucart

    Foucart Member

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    Our neighbours have a magnificent magnolia planted 1 metre from our border, it is the pride of our street. The problem is that it is digging up the paving to the entrance of my house which is about 2m from its trunk.
    Is it possible to remove the problem root without damaging the tree. It is approx 10-15 years old and stands at about 20-25ft high. The 2 roots in question are approx 2-3" in diametre. The roots are very close to the surface. I would appreciate any advice as we love the tree but cant have it destroying entrance.
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Break up the paving (without gouging roots), raise the level with gravel and replace walk above level of roots. Do not cut roots.
     
  3. Debra Dunaway

    Debra Dunaway Active Member

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    Exactly....
     
  4. Foucart

    Foucart Member

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    Thankyou for reponding to my question......... our only problem is that the paving is perfectly flat and I will need to raise the paving several inches in the problem area. I am concerned this will keep happening as it has been getting worse over the last year.
    Obviously for us the best thing would be to cut the 2 roots, but if this will kill the tree then we wouldnt consider it...!
     
  5. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I would guess that you can cut these roots, and what's more I think you should. You are quite right that any repair of the concrete will only be temporary, and unfortunately the urban environment cannot be endlessly altered to accommodate trees. The tree does not recognize human or structural needs, and has no sense of fair play. If you let it encroach without limitation, then it will ultimately be so damaging that it will need to be destroyed by you or a future owner of your house or of the neighbour's house. Limiting the root travel will in other words probably prolong its life.

    I think the sensitivity of magnolia roots is somewhat overblown, and surely the tree has enough roots that it can accommodate the removal of these roots if it is done at the right time, which I think would be autumn. I base this belief on my experience moving a magnolia last year.

    I transplanted a magnolia that is maybe 5-8 years old last fall and totally mangled the roots doing it, and it seems to have survived. I had read all the literature about how sensitive magnolias are to root damage, and that you should root prune them the year before moving them, but I had no choice as I'd planted it in a narrow bed bordered by concrete on two sides, fence on a third, and a new spot became available in the yard and I wasn't about to wait a year to accommodate the root pruning. The original spot was unsuitable because my neighbour planted an evergreen clematis and an Albizia for it to climb up on the other side of the fence, and they outgrew my tree which never had any headspace. I moved this tree, which was some ten feet high, with a root ball that would have fit into a gallon pot. I did it in fall, and the tree has survived, though it only put out tiny leaves this year rather than the usual 10-inchers. The photo below of the tree leafed out is taken late this summer. I grant you it hasn't yet showed full recovery, but I hope that it will.

    So I'm guessing that if you damage two roots of your tree at the least sensitive time of year, the tree may falter a little bit in the following season, but that it will ultimately survive. You take a risk, yes, but I don't believe you risk the life of the tree.
     

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