It is obvious that humans and animals like to dig. We dig for a number of reasons. Sometimes we will come across a tree root and usually chop straight through it to continue the project at hand. Other times the root is protruding from the ground and is in the way so it gets chopped out to remove it. It is also a common occurrence for trees that are planted in the wrong locations to have the tree roots grow through a pipe or drain. At some point it will have to be dealt with. The question is what happens when a tree root is cut?
For the most part cutting a small root is similar to removing a small limb. It isn’t particularly devastating to the root system or the tree. However, at times cutting a tree root can cause reprehensible damage to the tree and possibly kill it if not stunt its growth or kill part of it. There is a good way to tell the different parts of a root and what root you are actually cutting through and that will let you know how bad it will be to the tree above.
The roots that grow more vertical and are tapered are known as stability roots. They are the main stronghold for a tree. They do the job of keeping that tree upright when it comes to wind, rain, and other things that might affect it. The tree roots that branch from the stability roots are smaller. They also grow downward from the stability roots. They are the nutrient getters. A way to tell what root you are looking at is that the nutrient getter is usually slender and tapers off when growing. It also has even smaller roots growing from them called feelers. They seem to be able to feel there way to the nutrients.
Did you know that roots also have helpers. Roots have a symbiotic relationship with certain fungus. One fungus in particular goes and finds nitrogen and oxygen for the root while the root provides some sugar for the fungi. They help each other survive and get what each other needs. It’s always nice to have friends like that.
The foundation of a root is important. There are a few places that roots may grow. You can have a tree seed land in some sand and even though the tree may grow in the sand it wont be able to get much stability. It will be able to be blown over with just a little wind. A tree root needs a good foundation. It needs soft soil at the top and good hard dirt underneath. This way they can really grab on and not be pulled up. A tree root understandably is the reason a tree either makes it or dies. So, back to chopping at the root. The closer you chop the root to the tree the bigger impact the chop will be. So, the next time you dig and come upon a root, see if there is any way to get around it to keep the tree living. It may prevent you from killing your tree.