racines d'un arbre

Cut the roots of a tree, yes or no? There is a lot of uncertainty about this. In the first place? The exact reasons that justify this action, and the consequences on the health of the tree.

Although it is indeed possible to cut the roots, it should not be done haphazardly. And then upstream, precautions and choices of relevant specimens exist to avoid this procedure.

So, in which cases should you resort to a cut? Which trees are most at risk of having invasive roots? And how can we deal with it in a careful way? Learn more about tree roots and the best way to combine zero risk to them and zero risk to your foundations.

Invasive roots: how to avoid them or why cut them?

Tree species with invasive or surface roots

If you want to decorate your outdoor space with a few trees, be wary of certain varieties, known to have root systems that are difficult to manage. Thus maples, ficus, ash trees, but also willows and poplars are among the first species to avoid. Possibility of extensive growth very far from the trunk, pressure likely to be exerted on the foundations or capacity to rise to the surface: their roots are particularly invasive!

Others such as elms, lilacs and certain fruit trees (ornamental cherry trees and plum trees in particular) also have the potential to cause you some difficulties. For what? Because they have tenacious woody roots. The latter develop close to the tree and play a role as a framework, unlike the fine roots, which will be mobilized to absorb nutrients from the soil.

Because they are strong and well distributed around the trunk, woody roots are those that can cause the most damage to foundations. This is why specialists recommend a distance of three meters between a tree – especially if it is part of the list previously presented – and a house. This distance is a reliable guarantee to spare you any pressure from the roots on a foundation, and by extension, to exempt you from cutting them! Unfortunately, this ideal scenario rarely exists. Often, trees are already planted around a house, and few people know this three meter rule.

Why cut the roots of a tree?

Proximity to the foundation or drainage system is one of the first reasons for root cutting. Indeed, the conflict with the roots comes into play when there is a house or terrace type foundation, or when we wish to install one, or when we wish to carry out the overall layout of a garden. We will also try to limit their expansion to avoid damage to the evacuation or drainage pipes. From an aesthetic point of view, you may also want to do without a mound of woody roots at the base of the trunk or prevent the regrowth of stump sprouts after felling a tree.

But the second reason that comes up most of the time is undoubtedly the encroachment of a neighboring property by invasive roots that belong to you.

Having to cut the roots of your trees is a situation that therefore has a good chance of happening. How can you make this operation relatively easy for you and without harmful consequences for your trees?

Cutting tree roots: the right actions

As you can imagine, cutting the roots of a tree requires certain precautions, so as not to damage it irreversibly. Therefore, it is advisable to:

  • Check that the roots you are about to prune are those of the target tree, and not those of a neighboring tree.
  • Do not cut more than 25% of the roots of a mature tree at one time.
  • Multiply the diameter of the trunk by eight to determine the minimum distance at which you can cut the roots without too much danger.
  • Cut only the roots on one side of the tree at a time, especially if you need to cut closer than the recommended minimum distance.
  • Monitor your tree for signs of dieback.

We talk about this phenomenon of withering in the event of a bad cut. But what exactly are the risks associated with poorly done root removal?

If you cut too many roots:

  • The tree could be destabilized, lean, be more vulnerable to wind and bad weather, and ultimately, it could tip over.
  • You could deprive it of its water and nutrient vectors and therefore, in the more or less long term, condemn it to losing its branches, its leaves and ultimately, to die.

If you cut the roots too close to the trunk:

  • You could stimulate the regrowth of suckers around the stump, which will draw off remaining nutrients and accelerate the decline of the tree.

If you cut them and cause significant wounds:

  • You could encourage the establishment of fungi, bacteria, diseases and other harmful insects.

Far from being a surprise, the complications associated with cutting the roots of a tree should not be taken lightly! If you are faced with this problem, what solutions are available to you?

Tree varieties without invasive roots

You could of course set your sights on trees with less invasive root systems, like most fruit trees (with the exception of ornamental cherry trees and plum trees already mentioned). In addition to being safe, they will delight you! Don’t give up on maples either, because sugar maple or red maple can be interesting alternatives, as can oaks and conifers. And why not change your approach and opt for shrubs? Hydrangeas or rose bushes have an undeniable charm and above all, reassuring at the root level!

But to be sure not to engage in a dangerous undertaking, which would endanger the health of your trees, why not call on the specialists at Émondage SBP? Their range of services is enough to ensure an impeccable cut and great peace of mind. Prune a tree without compromising it, prevent the risk of uprooting, ensure compliance with laws and regulations, benefit from proven expertise and a relevant diagnosis: all this – and much more – will be guaranteed to you!

Sources :

Recommended Posts