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Old 11-12-2010, 09:10 PM
 
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I have an enormous Slippery Elm in my front yard. The surface roots have made it impossible to cut the front yard with a lawn mower, and the yard looks ratty. I'd like to cover them over with soil and plant grass on top for an even looking front lawn, but I've read that can be bad for a tree, and two professional gardeners told me two different things. One said no problem, one said it would kill the tree.

Anyone have any experience doing this? Any problems? How's the tree?
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Old 11-14-2010, 09:54 AM
 
Location: WA
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It may be difficult to get the soil deep enough to support grass without impacting the tree to some extent. In my experience the area right around the trunk can be covered without problem but covering roots out near the drip line is damaging.

A solution I have used is building a large planter covering the roots and filling it with large bark nuggets, and then adding a few potted flower pots that can be moved around.
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Old 11-14-2010, 02:44 PM
 
Location: Little Rock AR USA
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I agree with cdelena and the idea of potted flowers. I hadn't thought about that. The tree "breathes" through those surface roots and covering them with soil will kill it.
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Old 11-14-2010, 08:20 PM
 
Location: Iowa
13,396 posts, read 13,491,103 times
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I planted hen & chicks by my big maple tree as grass was not growing near it. The tree is real close to my driveway, soil is sandy, rocky so on the south side of it I put hen & chicks, they are doing great. The previous owner put day lillies on the other side, I leave those, I pull some, they come right back.

I don't look at any of it as having a heavy root system so I'm not worried about the tree, maybe I should be but not yet!
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Old 11-14-2010, 08:27 PM
 
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We have this same problem. I love the idea of the planter boxes. Do you have to add bark nuggets often?
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:45 AM
 
25,626 posts, read 34,727,409 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockside View Post
I have an enormous Slippery Elm in my front yard. The surface roots have made it impossible to cut the front yard with a lawn mower, and the yard looks ratty. I'd like to cover them over with soil and plant grass on top for an even looking front lawn, but I've read that can be bad for a tree, and two professional gardeners told me two different things. One said no problem, one said it would kill the tree.

Anyone have any experience doing this? Any problems? How's the tree?
How close to the base of the trunk of the tree do you want to cover? Depending on the size of the tree I would leave at least a three foot ring around the base of the trunk clear. Out past that you would be fine covering the roots. Just understand overtime because this tree is a heavy surface feeder you will encounter the same problem. If you could create a planter out to the drip line of the tree that would probably eliminate almost all of your issue. Whenever you plant trees in a lawn area you will get surface roots because its easier for the tree to get water than driving down a deep root system. This actually is a hazard as a shallow root system promotes disease and potential fall over issues when ground is saturated during heavy winds.
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