Silver Maple Tree – Can We Cut Roots To Ground Level

Q: We have a silver maple tree with roots two inches above ground. Would it hurt the tree to cut them to ground level using a draw knife and then cover with soil and grass?

A: Slicing into the roots would be a major injury to the tree. It’s very likely they will begin to rot and die. This will remove anchoring on that side of the tree, possibly causing the tree to fall. You would be better off to cover the roots with two inches of sandy top soil and plant groundcover. Or you could just cover the roots with mulch.