Oak Tree Root Damage

gardenaddict65(8b-9)March 5, 2008

Help! I was clearing out from under some large 30'+ oaks today trying to get rid of those invasive shrubs that want to take over the woods. I am afraid that I may have cut and removed some oak tree roots by mistake. It is impossible for me to tell. The roots were very close to the trunk of the tree in some cases wrapping around the trunk. I am unsure if I damages the root system and I am just sick that I may have injured the tree! The roots in question were about the size in diameter of my pinky finger and two to three feet long. I can't tell if they belonged to the tree or to the shrubs that I wanted to destroy.

Can anyone give me information about this. What I understand is that root pruning should be done with a very clean cut and then sealed. Well, I just yanked them out in pieces. Is there anything I can do at this point to help the tree just in case?

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joepyeweed(5b IL)

I doubt you did much damage...
If the roots seemed wrapped around the tree, they were probably the shrub roots... the tree roots tend to radiate straight out from the tree (there are exceptions, of course), not wrap around it...

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 2:04AM
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Just tamp the dirt back down lightly and leave it alone. I agree with Joe Pye that those were probably not oak roots. In addition, some experts advise people to remove "girdling" roots from their trees so, even if they were oak roots, you might have inadvertently helped.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 10:16AM
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Also, oak is one of the strongest trees. Ours was hit by lightning a couple of yeqars ago. The advise of our local extension agent was to give it time and see if it would live and it is begining to heal. It did kill one set of roots on one side of the tree.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 2:59PM
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Thank you all for the help. I have looked a couple of times and think that it will probabaly be fine. In my very humid zone 9 I am worried about fungus attacking any part of the tree, particularly damaged roots. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 1:22AM
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I want to build a paver brick walkway that runs within five feet of my white oak tree trunks.
The depth required is 6-9 inches below grade 4 ft wide.
How dangerous is this project to the health of my oaks?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 3:26AM
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hld6(z7 MD)

For a real answer "Hale 5" you'd want to talk to a tree expert but I think you'd be fine.

I've been working on a woodlands restoration on a steep bank by a stream in our neighborhood. Because I don't want trees to fall out of this bank when they mature in a couple decades I've picked only deep rooted tall tree species and ornamentals.

Oak trees in general are characterized by having a strong tap root when young that transitions to deep lateral roots when older.

So while I'm sure you'll damage some feeder roots while putting in your walkway - your tree should have plenty of other deep roots to keep it stable. And since it is only a walkway there should be plenty of feeder roots left to keep your tree nourished.

If you want to be more careful, do your work in the Fall when your tree is going dormant and is not being stressed by heat.

The U.S. Forest Service publishes a very handy resource online called the Sylvics Manual. It's entitled "Sylvics of North America" and comes in two volumes, Vol 1. Conifers and Vol. 2 Hardwoods. It is available online as html and downloadable pdf.

I envy you your White Oak! It's a magnificant tree. Good luck with your project.


Here is a link that might be useful: Silvics of North America

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 10:23AM
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I have an oak three feet from my garage. I am in the process of removing all the "landscape" rock and such and we will be putting down pavers from the garage wall to the tree. It gets so muddy, is a winter walk-way, no grass will grow. I am not worried about he tree at all. It is way too big to be bothered by us.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 7:00AM
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cynandjon(Z 5/6)

We had an oak tree die because of construction close to the tree. The tree guy told us oaks have surface roots that are very important to the tree. Some trees the surface roots dont matter but oak is one that does.

I found the link below. Scroll below the ad for the answer. Hope it helps

Here is a link that might be useful: oak tree

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 7:32AM
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Thank you all for the feed back

Based on what I've read I don't think this will be a major problem but I'm going to error on the side of caution and talk to a local arborist.

I'll let you know what this "expert" has to say.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 7:15PM
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I need some help too. Our tractor scooped up some dirt, but also a chunk of our White Oak tree's root. It's about the size of my arm. It also scraped another root. I don't know how old the tree is, but it's about 50' high. I don't want to lose it. Should I just put the dirt back on the scraped root, or is there some kind of medicine that I should use? Thanks, wendy

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 10:09AM
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