How To Cut Tree Roots Professionally

Before you cut these roots, you must consider the risk involved, as severing the main root can lead to the tree’s death.

If you want to learn how to cut tree roots, keep reading!

When you find your mower blades being caught by protruding tree roots that do little just to the beauty of your lawns, then it’s time to cut.

Cutting tree roots must be done carefully since the roots are the tree’s life. They also give them balance on the ground.

So how do you cut a tree root without killing the tree?

Factors To Consider During Tree Root Cutting

You have to consider a few things before you pull out your chainsaw to cut. One of which is the soil conditions, the second being the tree’s age.

You also have to factor in the tree’s species and the size of its trunk before you begin chopping away at the roots.

You will determine if it’s safe to cut the roots with all these in mind. You will also be sure where to cut them from.

Where to Cut Tree Roots

To be sure you’re cutting the root safely, you need to measure a distance of at least five times the trunk’s width from the root. This is for a mature tree (a baby tree’s roots hardly protrude).

If the tree trunk is 9 inches wide, then the safe cutting distance is 45 inches away. The farther away the cutting mark is away from the trunk, the safer to cut.

SEE: Guide To Root-Bound Trees

As you would expect, a mature tree has reached its maximum height, therefore some arborists suggest that cutting from 3 times the trunk’s width is relatively safe.

In a case where you find that the roots of a younger tree protrude, then it is safe to cut from a closer distance. This is because younger trees can recover faster from closer cuts.


It is a terrible idea to cut the roots of a leaning tree!

Choosing Which Tree Roots to Cut

It advised that you cut as few roots as possible. Better still, cut the thinnest roots. So you should desist from cutting roots that are more than 2 inches wide in diameter.

Most thick roots are the tree’s main roots, and you can find between four to seven significant roots on a tree. Generally speaking.

If you cut a major root, then you would be depriving the tree of one of its major channels of receiving nutrients. Cutting a major root will also mean you are reducing the tree’s stability on the ground.

Steps To Removing A Tree Root

You will need a sharp chainsaw for this. Begin cutting at the point where the root has a downward growth.

Before you start, be sure to remove all the grass and soil around the root area to have a clear view of the roots you are about to cut. Be sure to remove all the grass in sections so that they can be easily replaced when you’re done cutting.

You will need to sterilize the saw with rubbing alcohol. This will spare the roots from being infected. Dip a clean rag into the alcohol-based sterilizer and use it to wipe the saw clean.

Cut the selected root at a point just beyond the area where the secondary root grows downwards.

In a case where the root is located in an inconvenient spot, then cut the root at the point where it is safest from the trunk.

After the cut, pull out the piece(s) of root that has been cut, then replace the grass you have initially taken out.

You may be required to fill in bare spaces with extra soil and reseed.

The next step is to water the tree. You can also sore out some mulch across the surrounding areas of the roots around the tree’s dripline.

Cutting Fruit Tree Roots

It is common to see fruit farmers pruning the roots of their tree. The reason for doing this is that it promotes better production and better task fruits.

There is a contradiction among other experts, as they believe pruning the roots of a fruit tree is harmful to the tree. These contradicting experts suggest that pruning fruit trees does not promote the fruits’ size or taste afterward. They claim it is so especially in areas that experience very long and hot summer seasons.

Truth be told, if a tree’s roots are pruned, then there are bound to be several reactions by the tree itself. The way a tree reacts to losing some parts of its roots will depend on the species of the tree, its size, and the weather conditions of the tree’s location.


The tree’s ability to survive a root-prune is dependent on its size and maturity. If a tree is old or infested, then its chances of surviving a root prune will be very slim. A root prune isn’t so for a baby tree terrible, as it has the strength and years to recover.

As I have pointed out before, the soil condition is also a factor. If the soil in your yard isn’t properly drained, then the tree’s too will be very shallow.

Shallow-rooted trees stand a higher risk of leaning over when their roots are cut. This is because the roots are too close to the surface.

Will the tree die if I cut the roots?

It all depends on the size, species, soil condition, and season.

As a rule of thumb, do not prune roots that are more than 2 inches wide. If you cut off the significant origins of a tree (the large roots), then it may die slowly.

This is because the considerable bases are the tree’s source of water and other vital nutrients. The powerful roots also give the tree an upright posture and balance, and cutting them will force the tree to lean.

A leaning tree is a potential danger, as it can fall at an unexpected time.

What’s the best time of the year to cut tree roots?

The winter season and early spring are the recommended times to cut tree roots. The trees are dormant at this time and can withstand the wounds.


There you have it! That’s how to cut tree roots.

With the right know-how and the right cutting tools, you will have your tree roots cut and still keep the tree alive.

Take care!

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