Branching Out: Keeping A Healthy Environment Through Tree Care

The Root of the Problem: 2 Ways to Deal with Exposed Tree Roots so Your Kids Can Play Safely

Having a tree in your backyard offers many benefits, especially when the tree is well-established with a large shade-providing canopy. Research shows that a single tree possesses the cooling power of 10 standard air-conditioners. A yard with a tree also offers you, and your kids, a place to relax. In a world where kids and adults spend less and less time outdoors, the value of having a tree in your yard cannot be understated. A recent poll of American teens discovered that only 10% spend time outdoors each day. Adults spend just 5% of their time outdoors. 

But trees do come with challenges. One such challenge is what to do about exposed roots. If you have young children of nursery or primary school age, exposed tree roots can make playing under a tree dangerous. Faster growing trees such as the silver maple, box elder and dawn redwood reach maturity much quicker than other trees, but this also means their roots age faster too, growing in size until they break through the soil surface.

While it is possible to have a tree specialist cut the tree's roots or even remove the tree completely, there are other less aggressive solutions.  

Why it is Inadvisable to Cut Tree Roots

Cutting a tree's roots can leave it open to tree root diseases, and cause irreversible damage to its health. Roots are also responsible for anchoring a tree in place. Removing too much of the root system on one side therefore, could put the tree at risk of being blown over in high winds. 

Build a Boardwalk or Raised Deck

This is the perfect solution if your children use the area to play in. A raised deck with enough space between slats for rain to pass through, and with grooves underneath to make way for the root system can be used for many purposes. You could even build a children's play deck, adding a slide and tree swing to it for a jungle gym feel. 

A study by the American Institutes for Research in 2005, showed that kids who learn outside can improve their science scores by as much as 27%. 

Cover Surface Roots with Multch 2-3 Inches from the Trunk

Mulch made from wood or bark chips, and spread over roots 2-3 inches from the trunk, will provide a soft cushion for children playing in the shade. It will also provide porosity, allowing air to reach the roots, while retaining moisture. Always leave 2-3 inches of mulch-free space around the lower trunk to allow the tree to breathe. 

Both these methods are win-win for your garden. Your children get to keep their play area, and your house continues to enjoy the shade provided by the tree in summer. For more information, contact a tree service.