How do you remove tree roots without killing the tree?

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When you are growing a tree, they are such a joy to look at. As one of the majestic beings in the world, trees have so much to offer to the environment. Most trees do not need that much maintenance when they are already grown which adds to the reason why people love planting them. However, there will be times where you will have to do some regular maintenance or may need to cut off some parts that can cause harm and damage to people and property.

In the event that you will need to do remove some tree roots, you have to make sure that you have the right tools and knowledge before starting. When done incorrectly, there is the possibility of your tree not being able to recover from its wounds that can result in its death. After all, roots are an integral part of a tree. If they are damaged, it can be crucial to your tree’s health and being.

Best methods to remove tree roots without killing the tree

To use the best ways of removing the tree roots, you will need to consider the location of the growth. Depending on the reason why you want to remove them, it may be more challenging and difficult to cut. The most common areas where they settle are inside sewer lines and pipes, under your sidewalk pavement and driveway, and its usual place which is on your lawn.

How to remove tree roots

When they are on your lawn

When you just want to do regular maintenance for your tree, there will be a time that it has grown big enough to need root pruning.

Materials you will need:


Pruning Saw

Hand shears

Chalk or spray paint






  1. Do a proper inspection of your tree and identify the roots that you will need to remove. Ask yourself this question, “Why do you need to remove a root?” This will help in regulating how much is needed to be cut. You need to make sure which parts you will remove as cutting away too much will be detrimental to your tree.
  2. Mark the exact parts of the roots that you want to be removed using your spray paint or chalk if you don’t have one. This will lessen the risk of you cutting the wrong root. Always remember that trees will need enough roots to survive.
  3. Get your shovel and use it to remove soil and debris around your tree. This will make you see your tree’s roots properly. Mark the roots that you were not able to see earlier using your spray paint or chalk.
  4. For thinner roots, you can use your hand shears for a quick and easy cut and use your pruning saw for the thicker ones. For roots that are thick in diameter, it is advisable to cut them in sections slowly to reduce the stress that you are giving to the tree. Always aim to do the work slowly but surely as too much stress will eventually kill your tree.
  5. Make sure that you are removing all parts of the root that you want to get rid of. If you don’t, they will grow again as time passes.
  6. Always assess the work you have done. When you feel like you have given the tree too much stress for the day, you can always stop the job and continue it for another day or week to give the tree time to recover.

When the roots are inside your pipes and sewer lines

Reasons why this happened: Drainage systems and pipelines are vulnerable to clogging due to a tree’s roots and hair strands. Often times, roots are not able to get the required amount of nutrients that they need. As a result, they will attempt to find nutrients themselves by growing out and spreading to many years. This is unfortunate for your pipes and lines however, as they are often located underground.

In the present, modern homes’ pipe systems are not that threatened by tree roots anymore as they are made with better and more durable materials. However, if your property has an older system, it is highly possible that they are made with clay and old metal. If this is the case, tree roots can give them so much damage that it will be a huge headache to fix.

How to deal with it: This can be a very difficult task, as your pipes should be your priority instead of your tree. Most plumbers advise owners to pour root tree killers in drains and toilets to solve the problem, but if you want to save your tree, you can opt to use natural herbicides such as copper sulfates and rock salt in small amounts. They will only be a short term solution that you will need to do every couple of months.

How to prevent this from happening again: Herbicides are short term fixes in general. When your pipes are too old, it may be worth the price to get them replaced. This will save you the amount of money you have to pay for labor and repairs which can be very expensive along with the hassle of having leaking pipelines. Get the help of an expert tree remover and also seek the recommendations of your plumber.

When do you need to call a professional?

It is normal to want to do the tree root removal yourself especially when you are trying to save money. However, you may want to call the tree removal experts when:

The tree roots are too thick

When your tree’s roots are too thick in diameter, you will need more advanced equipment to use them such as a chainsaw. Chainsaws are extremely dangerous, especially for the untrained hand. Let the experts handle the dirty work and do not attempt to put yourself at the risk of having an injury.






The roots are hard to reach

Just as mentioned above, tree roots can reach the deepest and trickiest places. When they have reached areas that are difficult to remove, it will be wise to let the professionals do the digging.

The roots are sticking up in weird places

There are times when tree roots are too difficult to oversee and manage. When you are having a hard time deciding which ones you have to cut, let the experts do the identification. They will be able to point which roots need to be removed while not sacrificing the tree’s health.