Circling Root – Removal

Q: Is leaving or removing this encircling tree root likely to kill the tree? This is a large Japanese maple that is the highlight of my front yard. My nationally recognized tree service recommends removing the root, but I’m afraid to do it. What would you do if this was your tree? It otherwise seems healthy.

A: It would be somewhat of a gamble but I lean towards removing the root.

Obviously the tree has done well so far with the root intact. But as the root and trunk both grow larger, the conflict could lead to restricted growth, or even limb death, on that side of the tree.

Excavate the soil under the root with a trowel and consider your options for taking it out. The best tool would be an arborist’s saw (not a bow saw). An alternative would be a carpenter’s saw with a short, stiff blade. Carefully sever the root near its origin and wiggle it free from the groove it has made in the trunk.

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