Invasive Roots -- Suggestions?

jmac_2008September 8, 2008


I'm struggling to prevent invasive roots from strangling my new minis and new regular size roses. In the area I'm forced to use for planting, there are some big tree roots about 18" down and below, coming from the neighbor' yard. These are not the problem, however, because they are deep, and they aren't terribly numerous.

The big problem is the sheer number of roots about the thickness of a pencil and smaller that seem to 'attack' any new rose I plant. I'm not sure what type of roots they are, but the neigbor has several different shrubs and trees such as elms and locusts. After a I dig a hole for a rose, amend the soil, and start watering, the agressive roots from the neighbor's yard rapidly multiply and form a thick carpet of roots over the rose hole and strangle the new plant. I know this from digging up new plants that lasted for a few weeks and mysteriously died. The invasive roots are between 4" and 8" from the surface (not surface roots). Cutting them does no good. They seem to come back twenty-fold.

A few considerations:

1. A raised rose garden is out of the question. I'm trying to establish a row of 6 - 7 roses along a fence and the majority are regular sized.

2. Unfortunately, I can't plant elsewhere in the yard due to shading, structures, and other plants.

3. My neighbors will not kill any of their own shrubs/trees, but they won't protest if I have to cut roots on my side. (Their trees are not right next to our common fence.)

4. Planting mature rose plants with strong root systems may help. The bare roots and the young minis I planted didn't stand a chance.

Today I wondered if jamming an old cookie sheet down into the ground along my fence could stop the root invasion. Is there some kind of underground barrier I could use?

Thanks for your ideas!

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dan_keil_cr Keil(Illinois z5)

It's time to grow your roses potted. That way you can move them around. I am fighting maple tree roots. I potted my minis in pots and sunk them into the ground. I dig up the pots everyother year and cut out the roots and bury them again. They are doing quite well.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 4:21PM
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Thanks for this suggestion! I hope you will answer a few more questions. The picture is a worse than I originally described. The very agressive invading roots are between 4" and 12" deep (I find large roots deeper than that but they don't appear 'agressive.') In the Texas clay, the hole I prepare for my roses must represent an oasis. The invading roots multiply as if in a Sci-Fi movie!

Before reading the pot suggestion, I became so frustrated that I took a 3 gallon plastic pot from the nursery (it was for a regular size rose), cut its bottom off and stuck that into the hole I had dug for my mini rose. I planted my mini in that, not knowing if this was a good option.

I removed the bottom of the pot for drainage, but invasive roots will eventually come in from this opening. Would a stronger pot be better? How about a terra cotta pot? What about the bottom of the pot? What size pod do you use? Do you leave the rim above or flush with the ground surface or do you submerge pots completely?

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 1:57PM
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dan_keil_cr Keil(Illinois z5)

I Use a 5-7gal plastic pot. It depends on how vigorous the plant is. This size is for minis. Use at least a 10 gal size for bigger plants. You may have to dig the plant up every year,cut out the roots and place it back in the soil.
I use plastic, a clay pot would break, I would think. I leave the rim sticking up about 2" and then mulch around the pots.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 4:10PM
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