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4 Helpful Ways to Landscape Around Exposed Tree Roots

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Do you need some landscaping ideas around exposed tree roots? Exposed tree roots is a common problem that many homeowners face. When these exposed roots are left unsupported, they can damage the surrounding soil and eventually cause the tree to die.

Landscaping around the root system is necessary to keep it safe while still providing adequate support for your beautiful tree. In this article, we’ll cover four main landscaping ideas you can do to cover exposed tree roots.

exposed tree roots

Adding Mulch Around Your Tree Roots

The first landscaping idea is by adding mulch. Adding a thick layer of organic matter on top of the exposed roots will help keep the soil moist and protect it from damage. You can purchase bags of mulch or simply collect leaves, pine needles, hay, straw or wood chips to use in your yard project.

mulch around tree roots

You can also check with your local utility or waste company for free mulch delivery in your area.

When using a recycled product like wood chips, make sure to weed out any twigs or debris that could cause harm if left inside the mulch.

The easiest way to add a layer of mulch around your tree is by taking a wheelbarrow or lawn cart and filling it with mulch. Then, surround the tree by pushing the loaded wagon around its base to create an even layer of mulch.

University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences says to make sure that your mulch bed is at 12-18 inches away from any size tree. Adding mulch too close to the trunk of the tree in a volcano-like fashion cuts off oxygen to the tree and could cause more harm to it.

Adding a Ground Cover Around Tree Roots

The second landscaping idea is to add ground cover around tree roots. This can be done by planting any type of ground cover, such as a moss or ivy that will grow quickly and help to prevent soil erosion in the area around your tree’s root system. If you have pine trees, these ground covers are great.

ground cover around tree

Ground covers are low maintenance plants that do not require much work from you while growing into an effective barrier for exposed tree roots.

Adding A Raised Bed Around Your Tree

The last backyard landscaping idea is to add a raised bed around your tree. To create this type of garden, you’ll need some time and adequate hand tools like shovels or saws but the end result will be well worth it.

raised bed around tree

To build a raised bed around exposed roots, begin by clearing a space in your yard where you would like to turn into a garden bed. Use the shovel or saw to dig up any exposed tree roots while making sure that at least 12 inches of soil is removed from around the root system.

Once the digging is done, begin building your raised bed by stacking bricks, stones or wooden blocks about one foot high all around the exposed root system. This will provide adequate support for your tree while still allowing it to get water from rainfall or any other irrigation source you may have in place.

Add Gravel Around Your Tree Roots

Adding gravel around the exposed root system is another possible landscaping idea. To do this, all you have to do is place a few inches of washed pea gravel over the top of your soil and then cover it with gravel. This works similarly to the mulch and keeps the erosion levels down.

gravel around tree

What We Chose

Over the years, we’ve used mulch, gravel, and now we have ground cover around the tree. Once we added the mulch, the tree itself started looking better and producing more shade for our house.

Currently, the tree roots have ground cover around them and is still working well for the exposed root system.


Now that we’ve covered some ideas about how to help exposed tree roots, here are some popular questions about it.

Can I Just Add Soil to My Tree Roots?

If you want to avoid the process of digging up your yard and adding mulch or gravel, another landscaping idea is by simply using soil. This may be a less expensive option but it does not provide any support for your tree’s root system.

While this can help prevent erosion in certain weather conditions, standing water around the roots could cause the tree to rot and die.

Or if you add too much soil, then it won’t allow your roots enough oxygen to breath and a thick layer of dirt will suffocate the root system.

Can I Lay Sod Around My Tree?

Similar to laying soil, if you lay sod on your tree roots, then you’ll suffocate the root system and will harm the tree.

You want to focus on using material that can protect the roots, but still allow them to breath and get oxygen.

Why Are Your Tree Roots Exposed?

When we first moved into our home, our front maple tree was suffering from exposed roots. Many times, tree roots are exposed due to a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is soil erosion.

The soil simply is washed away, leaving the roots exposed and harming the tree. Other reasons that a tree’s roots are exposed can be due to:

Landscaping around the root system is necessary in order to protect both your landscaping and the health of your beautiful, big trees. With these four ideas for landscaping with exposed tree roots, you’ll find it easy to maintain this balance while beautifying your yard at the same time.


We hope this article helped you come up with ideas on how to landscape around your exposed tree roots.

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Jena Slocum Co-Founder

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