Asked on Nov 04, 2018

Mower hits above ground Multiple pine roots. Solution? Love tree!

by Trish

The roots of my huge pine tree run in every direction in my front yard. It’s really difficult to mow because there are so many. Hitting them is really bad for my mower and can’t be good for the tree . I thought about a flower bed but it would be HUGE and what do you plant under and around a pine ? Other suggestions? Cutting it down is NOT an option. Thank you!

And many more!

The culprit (after hurricane Michael worked his magic) This isn’t the whole tree but you get the idea.

  27 answers
  • MEG MEG on Nov 04, 2018

    Edge out area around tree roots and add mulch or rocks to avoid mowing over it and instead mow around it.

    • Tonia Tonia on Nov 05, 2018

      Mulching the area is a great idea. Keep in mind that rocks retain heat and that could be harmful to the exposed roots.

  • Oliva Oliva on Nov 04, 2018

    If you remove the grass, you can plant daffodils, crocus, hyacinth, hosta, brunnera, astilbe, bleeding heart, some heucheras, or lamium.

    More importantly, are these roots headed for the front street/water lines/sewer system? If so, you may need an arborist's help to assess pruning of some roots, etc.

    Pine roots tend to grow as long as the tree is tall.

  • Petric Petric on Nov 04, 2018

    The pine tree has multiple roots. If you cut one, the rest of them will compensate. Don't cut it too close to the trunk. I had a similar situation 10 years ago and the tree is fine.

  • Sandra N Leon Rollins Sandra N Leon Rollins on Nov 05, 2018

    Living in a wooded area, I’ve learned to accept those roots, but don’t like tripping over them. In winter or early spring, I walk around the yard and spray paint all the exposed roots a bright color. As the grass grows only a small portion of the paint is exposed, but that identifies the tripping and mowing hazards! Good luck!

  • 2dogal 2dogal on Nov 05, 2018

    I too have than same problem but with a different type of tree. I just mow around the roots. Then go back with my weed eater and weed eat the grass I didn't get with the mower. This is after getting the mower stuck on a root and ending up with a bent blade. :-(

  • Lynn Nohos Lynn Nohos on Nov 05, 2018

    do not mow so short. it is much better for the grass if it is longer, like 3 inches.

    • Russbow Russbow on Nov 05, 2018

      ABSOLUTELY, You are mowing to low. Adjust the wheels if you have a push/self propelled type, and raise the handle on a tractor type,. This will also smother weeds

  • Grace Gleason Grace Gleason on Nov 05, 2018

    It looks to me like you are "scalping" your grass. It should be about 3 inches tall. Yes, most people cut their grass too short. I don't even know why I am saying this since no one listens, but let your grass grow taller. MOW a little higher. Take a class in grass. Learn to take care of your lawn.

    • See 1 previous
    • Grace Gleason Grace Gleason on Nov 05, 2018

      I have to admit, I do live a bit farther north. I can believe 5" around there.

  • Steven Steven on Nov 05, 2018

    I would add topsoil over the roots and replant grass. From your pictures, it appears the trunk of the tree is out of the ground so far. Good luck with whatever you do.

  • Melissa Raymond Melissa Raymond on Nov 05, 2018

    Best solution and I've seen this in some affluent neighborhoods. Plant ivy around the tree and let it have a more natural flowing edge. Ivy and pine trees live in harmony and it's low maintenance. Do research on best ivy for your area. Looks great and saves the beautiful tree. Go with ivy.

    • See 1 previous
    • V V on Nov 06, 2018

      Ivy here grows up the trees and suffocates them. In other words it kills them so you’d eventually have to cut it down.

  • Leah Leah on Nov 05, 2018

    You can also put top soil over about 2 inches and reseed with grass seed. Do the whole area where roots are.

    • See 1 previous
    • Marissa Morin Marissa Morin on Nov 05, 2018

      Don't poison the roots. You will poison everything near it and everything that goes near it like small animals and wandering pets. Get a tree surgeon or arborist in there and cut the roots that are the worse problems. You could also buy a short white picket fence and run it the circumference of where the roots reach. In that area, you can ad more soil, reseed and take the grass down with a weed wacker. Then you make a park out of the circle. Plant flowers, ground cover, and even decorative grasses. Add a bird bath, a couple of Adirondack chairs with a small table between them. Think of it as a small outdoor room to be made to be decorated naturally beautiful.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Nov 05, 2018

    Yes, topsoil is the best way to go. Then consult your local nursery for the best grass seed for under pine tree coverage. Or the ivy is another way to accomplish coverage.

  • Jera Sheets Dick Jera Sheets Dick on Nov 05, 2018

    We have ball Cyprus trees and the knees can grow 5-6 inches above the ground. Out solution was to take a chain saw and cut out the offending roots and dig them up. We were not fortunate enough for it to damage the trees so we could get rid of them, but we are no longer fighting exposed roots.

    also, as one other person stated. Grass should always be at least 3 inches tall. It become thick and healthy and actually will kill the weed that must have light when they are close to the ground sprouting. if you leave your grass taller, you can kill 2 birds.... not damage to your mower and a no weeds with a beautiful green lawn.

  • MaShan MaShan on Nov 05, 2018

    We had the issue of no grass growing under oak tree. Our landscaper put in a bed of autumn fern about 18 inches from the tree out, then about four feet out planted Mondo grass. The Mondo grass is greener than the St. Augustine and pfovides a rich colored contrast. Soonafter we noticed those driving by slowing down for a better look. We love the new look. The Mondo grass only needs cutting back in late September, just once a year! Good luck.

  • Cheryl Cheryl on Nov 05, 2018

    What about adding a paver ring around the tree (as big as you wish), and fill in with rocks or bark mulch, and add a bench, chairs & small table or birdbath, and a pot of flowers. This would reduce the area of mowing, and if you do set your mower higher, it will make a lovely green carpet around it.

  • Richard T Richard T on Nov 05, 2018

    Living in LA and having Santa Ana winds that can reach gusts to 60 mph, the first trees to go down are always the pine trees that have exposed roots that grow horizontally. They buckle sidewalks, grow just underneath asphalt (cracking it), and come down on cars and unfortunately houses. Exposed roots should be a red flag of a possible disaster and your first consideration. If no threat to property or electrical lines coming down (my pine tree took down my power lines and pulled the roof connection pipe down) then you have great advice from others.

  • Mark Svetgoff Mark Svetgoff on Nov 05, 2018

    You can cut out as many as 3 roots a year without any damage to the tree. I would take the highest one your mower is hitting and cut the next two highest.

  • 1951 Ford 1951 Ford on Nov 05, 2018

    I have the same problem, but noticed once the root is scalped it shouldn't be a problem for quite a while. Also have a large pin oak with exposed roots mostly from loss of topsoil, I just mow around in a large circle of the tree to avoid them.

  • Dave Dave on Nov 05, 2018

    I had same problem, just cut root out that was sticking out. Did not hurt tree at all, they have so many roots they will not die. Usually the top roots are exposed because of lack of ground water. Install three watering pipes around the tree and water deep into soil. Should be fine.

    • Debbie Robson Debbie Robson on Nov 05, 2018

      We have pines and we get alot of rain so I do not think this is the problem we have and like I said my husband just cuts them out of the yard no problem

  • Chriss Grijak Chriss Grijak on Nov 05, 2018

    We had the same problem and planted 4 different varieties of hostas. Problem solved.....hostas are virtually maintenance free, are pretty and come back every year. Also, they will thrive from the shade provided by the tree. Good luck!

  • Debbie Robson Debbie Robson on Nov 05, 2018

    We have the same problem as we have pines all around our property. We put soil and planted grass but they came back so my husband gets a electric saw and cuts them only in the yard and it has been fine.

  • Kelly-n-Tony Kelly-n-Tony on Nov 05, 2018

    We have the same problem and from reading the other comments I see many others have as well. There's certainly a wide variety of solutions to try. I hope one works for you!

  • Carolyn from NH Carolyn from NH on Nov 05, 2018

    How about using those fiberglass drive way markers when your gonna mow. Then just pull then up and store till next time. Then weed wack around the roots to avoid damaging them.

    just an idea.

    Carolyn from N.H.

  • Linda Parrish Linda Parrish on Nov 05, 2018

    Raise your mower blade to a higher position when you now that area!

  • Cristine Meixner Cristine Meixner on Nov 05, 2018

    See the soil level on the tree? That is how much topsoil you have lost from your yard. Add topsoil to that level.

  • Julie Julie on Nov 06, 2018

    following this post - I have the same problem. Thanks for all the great suggestions everyone!

  • Angel Baker Angel Baker on Nov 06, 2018

    I'm not an expert on yards, grass or trees but my parents moved from Md, to Tx, to Md, to Tx, to N.C. & back to Md. In the years I was old enough to mow we lived in Tx, N.C. & Md. When we had the nasty heat of the summers in Tx everyone cut their grass as short as it would go & watered in the heat of the day. I raised our mower all the way up & took the bag off. I let the mulching mower do all the work. It chops it up fine & it helps with the health of the lawn. Plus no garbage bags full of grass on the curb every week. The taller grass shades itself which helps protect it. Even in Tx when walking through the grass to chase a ball that ended up going out if the pool, the ground & the under part of the grass was cool on your feet & the grass stays greener longer. Neighbors would ask what we were doing & I said just raise your mower but they never believed me. When we moved to N.C. we had a bag leftover from Tx so I put that down. When we moved back to Md there was a bag of grass seed left from N.C. so I put that down. The following year I experimented. I went to the local hardware store & couldn't remember the name but said I wanted the grass that grows good in all weather, stays green pretty much all the time & chokes out the weeds & such. I bought a spreader, would buy the grass seed every year, a bag of weed & feed every year & the stuff that helps to deter bugs, fleas, ticks & such ... we had dogs. I'd mix all of them together in the spreader when I went to do my first cutting of the season. I'd do the front yard & let the dogs out back only until the first good rain. Then I'd do the back yard & let the dogs out front until the first good rain. After doing that at the start of the season I didn't do it again until next year. The mower was always set as high as it would go & I always let the mower maulch the grass. No matter which state we lived in we always had one of the best looking yards in the neighborhood & we always noticed others here & there copying what we were doing. As for your tree roots ... we had the same problem. We had two roots from a tree in the middle of our front yard start coming up. The grass was tall enough & green enough that you couldn't see the tree roots. One year during my first mowing, when I went over one root, it had come up a little & the mower got it. By the time it hit it was already past it. It barely scratched the root & thank goodness didn't do damage to the mower. I don't know if it was a slow grower or if mowing every week continued to keep it from growing out any higher but I had thought about putting a mini flower bed there or a couple bushes & then matching it on the other side of the tree but I came into some money, was tired of still doing yard work at 47 years old, bought a condo & sold the house. Another possible idea besides plants or bushes could be a couple chairs or a bench there for relaxing in the evenings or just for decoration but just do that area with the weed eater instead of the mower. You'd be surprised at the results from just raising your mower. Also, just an extra comment. I've always liked the criss cross pattern on a baseball field. I was bored one day & cut the yard going from the right front corner of the yard to the opposite back left corner of the yard & did the same thing in the back yard. The following mowing I reversed it & went from the left front corner to the back right corner. After that second week the design started to show. It stood out even more the following week & every year, after the first two or three cuttings the yard had that same criss-cross pattern that a lot of the baseball fields have. The yard looked great & I also noticed others in the neighborhood copying the idea. One last tip ... when winter is getting closer & you've done that very last mow, go back out the following week or week & a half & cut it one more time. By then the grass really won't be growing much anymore & by squeezing in that one last mowing, your yard will look freshly cut all winter ... as long as it isn't covered with snow & you can see it. Your grass will still turn brown but it will stay greener longer than everyone elses & it will be one of the first yards to turn back to that nice green when spring rolls around ... not because of the criss-cross pattern you've made but from raising your mower. ha ha ~ Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  • Deb K Deb K on Nov 06, 2018

    You can cut some of these roots out at the far ends, and raise the height on your mower, add a mulch directly under the tree to make it look tidier.