About Tree-Root Pruning

Written by josienita borlongan
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About Tree-Root Pruning

Pruning the roots of trees is not a common practice. Oftent, this causes more harm than good if not done properly. One must know the proper tools and techniques of pruning roots in order to keep the tree from dying. Most gardeners would rather leave obstructive roots alone rather than pruning them due to the very same reasons; however, mastery of root pruning helps bonsai enthusiasts keep the small sizes of their bonsai plants.


Pruning roots from smaller trees, such as those in pots, helps the trees maintain their size and be able to keep in pots. Use a pruning shear or a sharp knife to perform pruning on smaller tree roots. Pruning trees to prevent growth is also a method performed commonly on bonsai trees. This keeps them in their minuscule size even after several years. Prune bigger, exposed roots from big trees by using a chain saw, hacksaw or axe.

Expert Insight

Pruning the bigger and thicker taproots while keeping the thinner feeder roots can help the smaller roots catch up in size. For bigger roots exposed that pose hazards in the garden or threatening a foundation of a home, root pruning can be performed by using a chain saw and removing one to three of the roots. Prune big tree roots carefully in order to avoid harming the tree. By cutting only a few roots every 3 to 5 years, it lessens the chances of destroying the trees.


Root pruning prior to repotting helps improve the oxygen circulation inside the pot. Roots thrive with oxygen aside from water to survive, so if you remove some of the roots there will be less congestion so more oxygen can benefit the roots. Pruning bigger roots that pose hazards in gardens or parks can prevent accidents to pedestrians.

Risk Factors

Pruning roots of trees is risky for the trees. One must avoid cutting or pruning the roots all at once. Trees feed through roots; if one cuts the main feeders, it will definitely harm the trees. There is also a risk factor for human beings, since roots help anchor the trees in place. Improperly cutting roots may weaken the trees causing them to fall, which can cause bodily harm or damage to the property.


People who prune big, exposed roots from trees think that these roots will not grow back. This is a common misconception. Imagine a homeowner digging the soil before pouring in a concrete for a driveway or patio. Noticing the exposed big roots, the homeowner takes an axe or a hacksaw to cut them. After the concrete dries and a couple years pass, the homeowner notices a big crack on the concrete--because underneath, the roots grew back.

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