This article is part two of ‘You’ve Heard Of Pruning, But What About Pruning Tree Roots Pt1’.
Part one outlined what root pruning is and what it’s used for, as well as how air and light pruning works and why. Now we look at:
Pruning roots of larger trees
When pruning the roots of older trees, or a larger variety of tree that’s unable to be removed from the ground, you’ll need to use an entirely new set of rules. As with normal pruning, the perfect time to prune your tree roots is in early Spring or Winter, as this is the time of hibernation or little growth and won’t affect the plant in a negative manner as much. When pruning roots, be careful not to cut any over two inches in diameter, as this may (or rather, very likely will) cause instability in the tree’s growth. Also, never touch any of the trunk, as this will cause major structural damage and the plant will never recover. In addition, you shouldn’t ever cut more than 20 percent of the above-ground tree roots, and never more than once in a two-year period.
There’s also a general rule-of-thumb that you shouldn’t ever cut roots for aesthetic reasons, and if you are going to cut roots on a larger tree, only if it’s destructive to a nearby structure or conflicting with other plants. It’s also a very good idea to get some advice from your local arborist or other tree-knowledgeable teams. Despite taking all of these precautions, tree root pruning is always going to have a huge impact on your tree and may even be detrimental. Unless you’re very careful, you will be increasing the risk of injuring or restricting the growth of your tree permanently.
Making the cut
First, find the root or roots that are causing the trouble – make sure they are not very large-sized roots from your tree (use your common sense here), as these are like arteries or stabilisers for your tree and you’ll need a professional to handle them. Also make sure you’ve identified which tree the root is coming from. If you’ve decided that you’ve found the right root to cut, measure the tree’s diameter about 1 metre up from the trunk base and divide that number by 3. Typically, the roots that are at least three to five times the diameter of the tree’s length away from the base are able to be cut or trimmed. As an example, if your tree is 1.5 metres in diameter, don’t touch any of the roots that are closer than 4.5m to 7.5m away.
Once you’ve figured this out, cut a hole in the root and expose it to the air and sunlight. It’s recommended to leave the root exposed for a few hours, but not necessary. Then its time to saw the offending root, ensuring you replace the soil once you’ve cut the root away. Once this has been done, it’s very important to keep an eye on the tree and if there are any signs of problems, please don’t hesitate to call in our team of arborists at Brisbane TreeWorx.
If you do decide to go ahead and do this yourself, you’ll likely have no problems if you follow these steps, be extremely careful during the pruning and vigilant with aftercare. However, there is never any guarantee in any of these procedures – and yes, it is a procedure. Like an operation on your tree! Your best bet is to give the friendly team here at Brisbane Treeworx a call before starting any major tree pruning – roots or otherwise – and we’ll have a chat about your needs. Get some professional advice on 0400 249 099 or click here.