Root Injury

Image of root damage

The vast majority of a tree’s root system is present within 24 inches of the soil surface. While frequently forgotten because they are out of sight, roots are critical because they absorb water and mineral nutrients from the soil, store carbohydrates, and anchor and support the tree. Because of their proximity to the soil surface, roots are easily injured by human activities. Often these injuries are accidental such as those caused by lawnmowers and soil compaction. In other cases they may be intentional, such as when roots are cut to install irrigation lines, sidewalks, utility lines, or during construction projects. Small diameter “feeder roots” can be replaced by a tree when they are damaged, however the larger “buttress roots” that emerge from the root collar only develop early in a tree’s life. Damage to large roots can seriously impair a tree’s ability to obtain adequate water or remain anchored in the ground properly. But even damage to small roots can impair tree health. Root injuries are often invaded by pathogenic organisms and/or insects, and may act as the entry points for decay.


Nathan Hoover

Forest Health Forester
(615) 289-7373

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