How Far Down Do Tree Roots Go? The Fascinating Answer

Date May 29, 2022


Author TreeNewal Staff

When you look at a tree, the roots are out of sight and often out of mind. Some people say that tree roots can only grow as deep as the soil is thick, while others believe that they can reach down much further. So, what’s the answer? In this blog post, we’ll explore the fascinating world of tree root growth, from the impact of tree types and soil conditions to how to make sure yours grow strong and resilient!

How Do Tree Roots Grow?

Tree roots are amazing things. They are the unseen foundation of these massive plants, and they play a vital role in both the tree’s health and the health of the ecosystem around it. In order to understand how far down they can grow, we first need to take a look at how tree root growth happens in the first place.

Roots grow in response to a few different things, including the tree’s need for water and nutrients, gravity, and soil conditions. When a tree is first growing, its roots will typically grow down into the ground until they reach the water table. The roots will then begin to spread out horizontally in search of more water and nutrients.

Did you know: It can take anywhere from 3 months to over a year for tree roots to establish.

What are Invasive Roots?

Invasive roots are those that spread out horizontally and aggressively, often causing problems for nearby pipes and foundations. While not all tree roots are invasive, certain tree species are more likely to have them, including:

If you are concerned about the potential for damage from invasive roots, it’s best to consult with a Certified Arborist before planting.

What Affects How Far Tree Roots Can Grow?

Tree Type

The depth of the roots will also be affected by the type of tree. Trees that are native to areas with deep soils, like oaks and maples, will have roots that grow down to depths of 20 feet or more. Meanwhile, trees that are native to areas with shallow soils, like pines and firs, will have shallower roots.

Soil Conditions

Soil conditions also play a role in how deep tree roots can grow. If the soil is loose and easy to dig, the roots will be able to grow down deeper. If the soil is dense and hard, the roots will have a harder time growing down deep.

Are Long Roots A Sign of Good Tree Health?

While tree roots can grow to impressive depths, they don’t always need to go that deep in order to be healthy. In fact, tree roots often benefit from being closer to the surface of the soil. This is because they are able to get more oxygen and water from shallower soils.

In general, most tree roots can grow anywhere from two to six feet deep. However, there are some tree roots that have been known to grow much deeper than that. The world’s deepest tree root was found in South Africa, and it reached a depth of 24 feet!

How to Promote Healthy Root Growth

There are a few things you can do to promote healthy root growth in your trees, including:

  • Choose the right tree species for your area. Some tree species are more likely to have invasive roots than others, so it’s important to choose wisely.
  • Make sure the tree is getting enough water. A tree that is stressed from lack of water is more likely to have problems with its roots.
  • Mulch around the base of the tree. This will help to keep the roots moist and the soil temperature balanced, which is ideal for root growth.

Concerned About Your Roots?

If you are concerned about the health of your tree’s roots, check with tree care experts to get the best results to help them grow strong and resilient. There are otherwise a few general things you can do to start.

First, as mentioned above, make sure that you’re watering your tree regularly. Tree roots need water to grow, so if the soil around your tree is dry, the roots will suffer.

Make sure that the mulch you add is no thicker than 2 to 4 inches and no closer to the trunk than 3 to 5 inches of a young tree and 8 to 12 inches of a mature tree. Otherwise, you risk constricting the oxygen supply to the roots below.

Finally, make sure that you’re not compacting the soil around your tree. Tree roots need loose, well-aerated soil in order to grow properly. If the soil is too compacted, the roots will have a tough time growing and they may even start to suffocate.

By following these tips, you can help your tree’s roots to grow strong and healthy. And when your roots are healthy, your tree will be healthy too! If you have any further questions about how to care for your tree, or if you need help with tree root removal, don’t hesitate to contact TreeNewal. We’re always happy to help!

If you need advice or assistance with tree growth or root care, get in touch with the ISA-Certified Arborists at TreeNewal and enjoy tailored tree care advice.


To learn more about How Far Down Do Tree Roots Go? The Fascinating Answer, call our Argyle and Southlake-based teams

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

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