I have a pine tree with exposed roots. I have read not to cover the roots, but can I safely put soil on the side of the roots to make a level ground for mowing purposes. I try to avoid the roots but i do forget about them and do not want to harm them

  • A photo is always best Mar 20, 2023 at 1:26
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    Did exposure develop over years or quickly during some construction ? Mar 20, 2023 at 14:52

1 Answer 1


Well established trees do not like sudden changes in the grade of the soil around their roots. Roots absorb oxygen from the air and the active area for this is the top few inches of soil. If you cover it then they cannot absorb oxygen.

You can do any of these:

  • top dress with a half inch of compost or soil twice a year. A few years of this will raise the grade slowly
  • remove the grass and mulch around the roots. Grass is competing with the tree for water and nutrients so there is a double bonus of less to mow and more for the tree
  • I went searching for info on roots absorbing oxygen. I found a lot of claims and counter claims, but nobody with tests and actual data.
    – Boba Fit
    Mar 20, 2023 at 13:12
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    @BobaFit I found plenty of references and have added them to the answer
    – kevinskio
    Mar 20, 2023 at 19:40

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