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Root Pruning

by May 28, 2019News, Tree Blog

The manager of an elderly care home contacted me with a complaint from a residential next door neighbour. The roots of a Betula pendula (Silver Birch) tree were exposed and growing across the neighbour’s lawn causing trip hazards for her children and an obstruction for her lawn mower.

I did not want to remove these exposed roots however they were small enough, perhaps 2-3cm in diameter and at a sufficient distance from the base of the tree, that if removed, stability and health of the tree would not be compromised. The alternative to removing the roots would be to remove this beautiful 45 year old birch and I wanted to avoid this if possible.

“When it is necessary to cut roots, make cuts with a sharp tool and do not slant the cuts (1).”

I used a very sharp Gransfors Bruks axe to make exact, neat cuts.

“Callus will form about the cut and new roots will generate from the callus (2). Some new roots will form on the old root also.

When roots are crushed during construction, when possible cut the roots to remove the crushed ends. When pruning crushed or dead roots at planting time, do not remove small diameter tips; instead move up the root until a cut is made at a root diameter of at least 1 or 2cm. If root pruning is done prior to transplanting, make certain all cuts are made with sharp tools. Do not leave crushed roots. There is no need to treat root cuts with wound dressings.

I think it is sad when the wrong tree is planted in the wrong place with no space to grow, and then roots are cut.”

Alex L Shigo, Modern Arboriculture, Page 290.