Landscaping Around Trees with Exposed Roots - Your Idea Guide

September 5, 2023

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Landscaping around trees with exposed roots is often a challenge for homeowners. Those roots take up space you need for new plantings and can create a very unsightly look. They can also dry out the soil, absorbing moisture needed for other landscaping features.

Ideas for landscaping around trees with exposed roots include:

  • Add new plantings and then cover the roots with mulch.
  • Cover the roots with gravel or a rock bed.
  • Use thick groundcover plants.
  • Install a tree well and raised beds.

These are just a few quick suggestions for landscaping around trees with exposed roots and other challenges. To find out more about these suggestions and some other ideas you might use, keep reading! Additionally, a landscape installation contractor can also help. They might know the best choice for your property, considering its soil condition, shade, and the like.

landscaping around trees with exposed roots

Ideas for Landscaping Around Trees With Exposed Roots

Consider these ideas for how to improve the look of those trees with exposed roots for your residential landscape. Also, remember that you might combine these, to ensure a stunning look you’ll love.

Add New Plantings and Mulch

First, add landscaping around trees with exposed roots. Second, create mulch beds around the base of the tree. Mulch not only helps retain moisture but also provides a neat, uniform appearance.

Make sure not to pile mulch against the tree trunk; keep it a few inches away to prevent rot. Also, remember that mulch does degrade over time. In turn, you’ll want to replace and renew it every year or two, as needed.

Use Gravel or a Rock Bed

If you know new plantings just won’t thrive under your tree, try a gravel or rock bed. Adding gravel, larger stones, river rocks, or other materials creates a stunning look. They also help block weed growth and need little to no maintenance!

Moreover, remember that stores sell gravel, rock, and stone in a variety of sizes, shapes, and color tones. As such, you can find something that works for your property no matter its style. You can also use the same option to create walkways or edgings around the lawn, for a cohesive look.

Use Groundcover Plants

Thick groundcover plants help block the view of unsightly exposed roots. They also provide a beautiful, lush look that enhances a tree’s appearance. Consider hostas, ferns, or other options that might work for your property. A landscaping contractor can also offer suggestions for what might work under your tree.

Install a Tree Well

In skiing, a tree well is a dangerous pit formed around a tree on a ski slope. In landscaping, a tree well is a rounded wall you install around a tree. Don’t confuse these two, as a landscaping tree well makes your property safer, not more dangerous. A stack of bricks, blocks, or other materials prevents your lawnmower from hitting exposed roots.

Also, a tree well allows you to create a raised bed for new plantings. You can fill the bed with topsoil and then add whatever flowers or greens you choose. The well helps block those roots from your view while new plantings can mean added color and depth.

Other Suggestions for Landscaping Around Trees With Exposed Roots

Check out some additional ideas for hiding those exposed roots around your property’s trees:

  • Use decorative pots or containers to create a container garden around the tree. This way, you can change out the plants as needed and avoid disturbing the tree's roots.
  • Install meandering pathways or stepping stones around the tree. This not only provides access but also visually distracts from the exposed roots. Use permeable materials like gravel or mulch for pathways to allow water penetration.
  • For a low-maintenance solution, you can install artificial turf around the tree. This provides a neat and green appearance without the need for constant care.
  • Incorporate hardscaping features like benches, small sculptures, or a birdbath around the tree to make the area more visually appealing.

add landscaping under trees where grass won’t grow

Should You Cover Exposed Tree Roots With Dirt?

It is generally not advisable to cover exposed tree roots with additional soil. Tree roots need access to oxygen. As such, piling soil on top of them can suffocate the roots and harm the tree. Note a few other important considerations when dealing with exposed tree roots:

  • Instead of soil, use mulch to cover the exposed roots. Mulch helps retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and prevent weeds. Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the tree, keeping it away from the trunk to prevent rot.
  • If you need to adjust the soil grade slightly to make it level for landscaping purposes, you can add a shallow layer of soil. However, it should be no more than a few inches deep and gradually taper away from the tree's trunk to avoid suffocating the roots.
  • In some cases, you might consider installing root barriers around the tree to prevent further root exposure or to direct the roots away from sensitive areas. These barriers are typically rigid and designed to guide roots rather than bury them.
  • If the soil around the exposed roots is lacking in nutrients, consider appropriate fertilization to support the tree's health. However, it's crucial not to over-fertilize, as this can harm the tree as well.

Are Exposed Tree Roots Bad?

Exposed tree roots are not necessarily bad in themselves. However, they can be a sign of underlying issues that need attention. For instance, when topsoil is washed away or eroded, tree roots may become exposed. Addressing the erosion issue is essential to prevent further damage to the tree.

In urban or heavily trafficked areas, soil compaction can occur, making it difficult for tree roots to penetrate the soil. In such cases, roots might grow closer to the surface, resulting in exposure. Soil aeration and mulching can help alleviate compaction issues.

Trees suffering from diseases or pest infestations may have weakened root systems, which can lead to root exposure. Addressing the underlying health issues of the tree is crucial in such cases.

A Quick Word From Our Team

Denver Landscaping and Design is happy to share these ideas for landscaping around trees with exposed roots. Hopefully we offered some practical suggestions you can use! Also, call our Denver landscaping contractors when you’re ready for a FREE landscaping price quote. We offer outstanding service and customer care, so call today.


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