I am a first time home owner, and didn't know that a mound around a tree was bad. A 2' deep, 10' wide mound had been put around the tree a few years before I bought the house. I want to remove the mound but now there are small roots in the mound and to remove most of the mound I would have to shovel through them.

I think the tree is a maple.

Would it hurt the tree to dig up those roots? What about using a hose to cause the soil to run off? How should I proceed in the best interest of the tree?

enter image description here

  • 1
    Thanks for the great question and welcome to the group. Providing more details such as what tree this is and how big it is (perhaps even a picture) would help everyone answer your question that would be helpful to you.
    – JStorage
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 20:14
  • I am not sure that a mound is bad for the tree. Where did you get that information?
    – JStorage
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 21:43
  • What is that pvc white pipe thingy right in front? If this tree was original, and your development saved this tree, worked around it and then tried to cover the roots making a mound and this guy actually made do and survived...wow. Pull that soil back and let us know!
    – stormy
    Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 0:32
  • @stormy im not sure what that pvc pipe is for. I know its attached to the well, and hisses. I just dont know what its for Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 0:46
  • 2
    What you need is more historical information, maybe by asking the neighbours - there doesn't seem to be any purpose to building the mound at the base of the tree, unless, and this is the only thing I can think of,, the tree was already present when the surrounding area was levelled and turfed, which meant roots which had previously been buried no longer were, so the mound was built to solve that problem. In which case, removing the mound will cause a problem...
    – Bamboo
    Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 1:16

3 Answers 3


Yes that mound will KILL this tree, slowly but surely. Unless the roots begin just below that line where the soil stops, you have to remove that mound! Any soil, mulch, rock, plastic that touches the bark of the trunk that is supposed to be out of the soil will allow moisture to create a great environment for bacteria to thrive. The vascular system, the live part of that trunk is a thin, thin line just below the bark. Once that is compromised, that tree will die within a year, maybe less. Roots send the water up to the leaves as well as certain chemicals necessary for photosynthesis and then the food that the plant makes for itself is sent down to the roots for storage and more power as roots are unable to photosynthesize to make their ENERGY, they rely on the energy sent down to them from the canopy/the photosynthetic factories.

Pull that soil back until you are able to see the root ball. Hopefully your tree hasn't been girdled where the vascular system is destroyed all around the circumference. Otherwise, partial flow will work while the tree tries to heal the compromised vascular system. I am so very glad you thought about this. Most people have no clue how important this is, including landscape maintenance companies!! Achilles' heel of trees.

If the mound is above the root ball and is on the trunk then all you can do is pull that soil away from the trunk.

I am seeing there might be a different history and this was an original tree left from construction/drainage. Exposing roots and by mounding the soil trying to save the roots...whoa. If this is indeed the problem then a simple low, easily a DIY project, wall around that perimeter will solve the MOUND. You just need to find the top of the root ball. Yes, it is a maple.

  • Thank you so much for this answer. But can i shovel through the small roots in the mound? Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 0:43
  • NO. Just pull that soil back with your hands. If there is more bark/trunk beneath that line, let us know. Gee, this is important, take another picture. This maple deserves this attention! Good for you! Are there roots right below the surface of that mound? Please pull that soil back and expose what is beneath the surface down a good 6" and take a picture.
    – stormy
    Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 0:46
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    Alright will do tommorow Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 0:47

From what I see on the picture, your tree did build roots to the top of the mond. And If you say us there are small root in there, my guess is these are the roots of the tree itself.

I disagree with Stormy: it doesn't necessarily kill the tree. Here it may have changed its shape by making it grow upper roots.

I would let the earth in here, and even try to grow something, (e.g. some small succulent with strong shade resistent feature) on top of it, to allow water to drain all the earth away.


Thankfully detrimental situation unfolds at a much slower pace when faced by large already maturing trees compared to young transplants where everything scientifically depends on their first 15-20 years determining what kind of service lives potentally provide.

Doing nothing will increase detrimental Odds while faithfully going forward to do what will be hordiculturally required will allow recovering tree to show it's gratification by vigorously responding within first two years. Just delay your enthuseism by holding off until chance of freezing temps begins to once again

Oddscan be at least 50/50 there already had been some existing trunk tissue damage before covered over and hidden with soil. Regardless If had been large area or unnoticeable, wet soil given access to unprotected internal wood will continue to rot & hollow out unless unburied and sunlite can begin drying things out.

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