6 Myths & the Truth About Tree Roots: Debunking Common Misconceptions

Date June 18, 2022

Author TreeNewal Staff

Out of sight, out of mind, right? When it comes to tree roots, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Though they are hidden underground, tree roots are actually vitally important – and interesting! Here, we will debunk some of the most common myths about tree roots and discuss the truth behind them. We’ll also share tips on how you can keep your tree roots healthy and thriving with TreeNewal!

Myth # 1

Tree roots die when the tree is removed.

Truth: This is simply not true. In fact, tree roots can continue to grow for years after the tree has been removed. The reason for this is that tree roots store a lot of the tree’s energy.  When a tree is removed, the roots are no longer able to receive energy from the leaves. This can cause the roots to die, but it is not always a quick process.

Myth # 2

Tree roots cause lots of destruction.

Another common myth about tree roots is that they are destructive. This is also not true! Tree roots actually help to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion. They also help to aerate the soil and improve drainage. Without tree roots, the soil would be much more likely to erode and wash away.

Myth # 3

Tree roots will grow only to a tree’s drip line.

Truth: False! The majority of a tree’s roots are actually found in the upper 12-18 inches of soil. The roots in this area are called the “critical root zone”. The critical root zone is where the tree absorbs most of its water and nutrients. Beyond the critical root zone, tree roots can extend even beyond the canopy of the tree. These deeper roots are typically smaller in diameter and are not as actively growing as the roots in the root zone.

Myth # 4

Tree roots grow deep into the soil and thus are inherently protected

Truth: This is only partially true. While it is true that tree roots can grow quite deep into the soil, they are not always protected from damage. Tree roots can be damaged by changes in the soil, such as compaction or erosion. They can also be damaged by construction equipment, chemicals, and even lawn mowers.

Protect your tree roots by following these tips:

  • Do not drive or park on root areas
  • Do not build on root areas
  • Avoid compacting the soil around roots
  • Use chemicals only as directed and never apply them directly to tree roots
  • Be careful when using lawn mowers and other landscaping equipment near trees

Myth #5

Tree roots break sewer lines and cause sidewalk cracks

Truth: Not always the case! Many people believe this because tree roots are attracted to moisture. However, tree roots will only grow into sewer lines or cracks in sidewalks if there is already damage present. If your sewer lines or sidewalks are in good condition, tree roots will not cause any additional damage.

Myth # 6

Tree root systems look much like a mirror image of their canopy.

Tree root systems do not resemble a mirror image of their canopy. Generally, they actually spread out much further than the tree’s canopy. The roots of a mature tree can spread out up to three times the width of the tree’s canopy and can occupy an area up to 100 times the size of the tree’s trunk. Bet you didn’t expect that!

Truth: TreeNewal can help you keep your trees healthy and thriving!

At TreeNewal, we are passionate about trees and their health. We offer a wide range of services, including tree trimming, tree removal, stump grinding, and more. We also offer tree root aeration and soil conditioning with MitoGrow, which is sure to help improve the health of your tree’s roots. Contact us today to learn more!

If you need advice or assistance with maximizing your tree’s roots, get in touch with the ISA Certified Arborists at TreeNewal and enjoy tailored tree care advice.


To learn more about 6 Myths & the Truth About Tree Roots: Debunking Common Misconceptions, call our Argyle and Southlake-based teams

at (817) 592-6846 or send us a message.

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