Asked May 17, 2020, 11:41 AM EDT
Genesee County Michigan
Some maples are predisposed to having shallow roots.
This includes Norway, Red, and Silver Maples. Surface rooting is most common in compacted or clay-based soil. When the roots within the first few inches of soil
get large enough, they break through the surface. Gradually, rain and
wind erode the soil around them, further exposing them.
Roots need oxygen. In compacted soil, they must grow up to the surface in order to get enough oxygen to keep the tree
alive. In many cases, trees with surface roots are struggling to breathe and are doing their best to adapt to an
environment that is less than ideal.
Don’t cut the offending roots. Cutting them can provide an easy entry point for diseases and harmful insects. It can also negatively impact a tree’s stability. Your best bet is to put down about four inches of mulch underneath the tree. This will help level out the area while keeping roots cool and moist and allowing them to breathe. Don’t put down more than four inches, though, and don’t pile mulch against the trunk.
Sometimes a maple or other hardwoods can drop bark. As long as there’s healthy bark underneath the peeling layers, your tree is OK. But if you see these other signs, your tree needs a bit more help:
- Bark falls off after frost, which usually happens on the tree’s south or southwest side. Any sudden swing in temperature can make trees shed bark and crack under stress.
- Bark falls off after excessive heat, which, like frost damage, strips bark down to the wood.
- Bark falls off an unhealthy tree, which means you’d see other signs of stress such as cankers, sap, or dead leaves and twigs.
Click on "Find an Arborist" at the top of the page; then click on United States from the pull-down menu. Then enter your State and City. This should bring up a list of certified arborists nearest to you. Or you may be able to locate one under "Tree Services" in your local Yellow Pages.