Should I Prune My Tree Roots?

The Dangers of Trimming Your Roots

Tree roots can stretch far and wide, and sometimes this can become an issue for homeowners. It’s reasonable that you would want to prune the roots of your tree if the growing roots are beginning to interfere with walkways or the foundations of your home. However, you should never prune tree roots for purely aesthetic purposes.

There are several complications that can arise from cutting your tree roots, meaning you shouldn’t take the decision lightly. Here’s a little guide to your tree roots and the potential dangers of cutting them.

The Role of Tree Roots

Tree roots have a dual purpose: they provide stability and structural integrity to the tree as well as the necessary nutrients and water. Trees have different types of roots for these two functions. The structural roots are much larger and thicker while the feeding roots are small in size.


You will be putting the stability of the tree at risk if you choose to prune these roots, meaning that it’s liable to fall over when the weather takes a turn and it becomes hazardous to anything in its surrounding area.

If you prune the feeding roots you are reducing the tree’s capacity to find nutrients and water, resulting in an unhealthy tree. Younger trees have a better capability to recover from pruned feeding roots while older trees are more likely to become sick. Avoid pruning these roots as best you can, and only when they present a hazard to your home.

Pruned tree roots can act like an open wound, meaning that they’re susceptible to disease and infection. When a tree becomes sick in this way it’s very difficult for it to recover. It also makes them more vulnerable to pests such as beetles and bores that will cause further damage to the tree.

If You Have to… Here’s How

If it’s necessary to prune your tree roots to protect the structure of your home, here’s a couple things you should remember when pruning.

  • Winter and early spring provide the best time to trim your tree roots as this is when they are least likely to feel any stress from it.
  • Don’t cut any roots that are larger than 2 inches in diameter. These roots are going to be integral to the stability of the tree.
  • Never trim more than 20% of above-ground roots at any one time. This will also cause complications for the structure and the tree’s ability to provide nutrients and water.
  • You should only prune in this way once every two to three years. These years are critical to ensure the tree has been able to recover before you consider pruning any more.

We encourage you to contact an arborist to consult with them about the best way forward if you have tree roots that are affecting another structure of your home and you’d like to prune them. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call here at Empire Tree.

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