You may have just cleared out your yard from trees but are still looking to get rid of the roots, or maybe you just want to get rid of tree roots that are above ground.
Regardless of the reason you need to get rid of those roots, there are several ways to go about it! And the good news is that, in most cases, you can do it yourself without the need of getting a professional.
There are three major umbrellas when it comes to getting rid of tree roots:
- Removing the roots physically with tools.
- Removing the roots chemically with solvents.
- Removing the roots with the help of a professional.
How do you know which method to use? It simply depends on the case! So, before we get into the how of it all, we’ll first get into which method suits your case the most.
The Three Methods of Removing Tree Roots
Here’s a breakdown of each of the three main methods of removing tree roots:
1 – Physical Removal of the Roots
Physically removing the tree roots in your yard involves a lot of handy work. The equipment is overall pretty affordable and you can even rent most of it!
If the case is urgent and you need to get rid of the tree roots in your yard quickly, physically removing them could be the best option.
Before deciding to pick this option, make sure to contact your utility company to ensure that there are no underground lines since you’ll have to dig and you don’t want to risk accidentally bursting a line while doing so.
There are two options when it comes to physically removing tree roots from your yard. You could either use light yard equipment like a spade and loppers or use heavy equipment like a stump grinder. Which option you pick mainly depends on how deep the roots are in your yard.
The process is quick but is not applicable if the roots are too deep into your yard. However, if the roots reach 10 feet or below, then physically removing them is most suited.
If you don’t mind certain things like digging out your yard, getting your hands dirty, and knowing how to use yard equipment, then physically removing the roots is the best option for you!
2 – Chemical Removal of the Roots
Chemically removing the roots takes the longest time out of the three methods.
There are two ways to chemically remove tree roots. One takes a few weeks and the other takes a few months! However, the process is simple and involves very minimal handy work.
You must take serious precautions when using chemicals to get rid of the roots as not following the right steps puts the beauty of your yard at risk and you may end up deteriorating all the surrounding grass or de-fertilizing the soil.
Using chemicals to get rid of tree roots targets even the thickest of roots without risking any damage to any possible underground lines your yard might have.
So if you prefer a process that doesn’t involve using dangerous equipment, won’t create a big hole in your yard, and takes a while to get rid of the roots, using chemicals to get rid of the roots is the best option for you.
3 – Professional Removal of the Roots
Sometimes you need to get the job done quickly and you just don’t have the right tools for it. If you don’t want to take the risk of performing handy work on your own or messing around with chemicals, then you might want to leave the job up to a professional.
Working with a stump grinder can be dangerous to you, and working with chemicals can be dangerous to the rest of the plants on your lawn.
If you’re not completely sure of what you’re doing, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Another case in which it would be better to opt for a professional is if the tree stump is too big.
Sometimes the roots are too thick to eliminate (even with a stump grinder) and the situation is too urgent to wait out using chemicals.
Getting a professional has many benefits:
- The process is quick.
- You don’t need to get your hands dirty.
- Yard clean-up will also be handled by the professionals.
There’s only one major downside: due to this option’s many benefits, it’s the most expensive.
Depending on the thickness of the roots, getting rid of your tree roots by a professional tree root removal company can cost between $250 and $350.
How to Physical Remove Tree Roots
As we said before, there are two major ways to physically remove tree roots from your yard. One involves light equipment and the other involves heavier equipment.
However, the processes for both are smooth once you get the hang of it!
Digging Out the Roots
Things you’ll need:
- Grub hoe
- Loppers or root saw (depending on how thick the roots are)
- Garden gloves
First, you’ll use the spade to dig out the dirt surrounding the roots. You’ll notice the roots thinning out as you dig in deeper. You’ll also see thin strands of the roots.
The first thing to target is those strands by pulling them out by hand as you dig in deeper. Make sure that there are no strands left behind.
Once you reach the point in which the roots are thin enough to be cut by the loppers, you’ll start cutting them, targeting all the roots.
You usually cut the roots with a pair of loopers. However, if the roots are too thick for them, opt for a root saw instead.
Now comes the fun part! You’ll grab your grub hoe and collect all the pieces of cut-out roots from the soil. Some bigger pieces will need to be taken out by hand.
You repeat the process until all the roots are eliminated!
Stump Grinding the Roots Away
Things you’ll need:
- Stump grinder
- Protective gear
Using a stump grinder can be dangerous, so use it with great precaution and proper protective gear. Make sure your body is completely covered and that your eyes and hands are protected.
Before getting started, make sure the tree stump is cut down completely low—almost at ground level. So, you don’t damage the stump grinder, remove any debris surrounding the stump.
Also, use your shovel to look for any debris under the dirt as well.
Now that everything is covered, aim your grinder toward the stump and start grinding! Once you’ve reached around four inches or more deep, you can start digging up the roots.
Once all the roots are dug up, you’re good to go!
The process is usually a lot less time-consuming than manually digging out the roots. However, it does cause a lot more damage to your yard.
Both methods of removing tree roots will probably leave you with a big hole in your yard. Luckily, that can easily be fixed with some mulch or grass seeds and topsoil!
If you’re looking for a quick fix, mulch would be the best option. However, you can also treat the area by re-growing grass in your yard.
How to Chemically Remove Tree Roots
The two ways to remove roots from your yard are pretty similar. One involves using a chemical compound and the other involves using rock salts.
If you prefer to shy away from extreme chemicals and would rather opt for a more natural option, then rock salts would be the most suited option for you.
However, if you prefer a quicker process, then using a chemical compound would be best.
Chemical Compound Removal
Things you’ll need:
- Glyphosate herbicide (must contain 41% concentration of the active ingredient)
- Water hose
- Garden sprayer
- Garden gloves
First, use your saw to cut a new layer of the tree stump and soak the first ring inside the bark in water with a water hose. The water spreads out the herbicide evenly throughout the tree, making sure it targets all aspects of the tree.
Create a solution of the herbicide with water. This solution will contain equal parts of water and herbicide. Soak the first ring inside the bark in the solution with a garden sprayer.
You mustn’t spill the solution on any plants in proximity to the tree. This will cause your plants to die out, leaving your yard looking dull.
Once you soak the tree stump in the herbicide, all you need to do is wait!
It’ll take around two weeks for the roots to completely die off. If you’d like to speed up the process, highering the concentration of the herbicide in the solution will help.
However, this will put nearby plants at risk of also dying off. So it is best advised to use equal parts of water and herbicide and just wait it out!
Rock Salts Removal
Things you’ll need:
- A drill
- Rock salts or Epsom salt
Using your drill, drill multiple holes into the stump and into any roots that are laying above the ground. The more holes you drill, the faster the process will be.
Once you have these several holes, pour into each hole rock salts until it fills up, then pour water into the hole up to the top. A good alternative for rock salts is Epsom salt as well!
Be very careful that the salts do not spill on any other surrounding plants. Once the water and salt soak into the tree and roots, you’ll fill it up again using the same process.
You’ll need to repeat this throughout the months. As time passes, the salt dehydrates the roots, soaking all the water out of them. This causes them to naturally die out.
That is why the process usually takes a few months to completely get rid of the roots.
However, a good way to speed it up is by increasing the number of holes you drill and by using a higher concentration of rock salts.
How to Remove Tree Roots Without Harming the Tree?
Maybe you’re just not ready to let go of that tree but the roots still bother you. No worries! That can also be done.
The process is very similar to digging out the roots, except this time, you’ll follow two major rules to keep the tree unharmed:
- Rule #1: Only target roots that are thinner than your fist.
- Rule #2: Leave behind five times the diameter of your tree roots. So if your tree’s diameter is 3 feet, you’ll cut the roots until they are 15 feet.
As long as these two rules are followed, then your tree will be perfectly fine and your yard; perfectly clean!
Why Should You Get Rid of Tree Roots in Your Yard?
You might be wondering, “Why even bother?” The reality is that, when they’re long enough, tree roots can significantly harm your beautiful suburban yard.
Especially if the roots are no longer alive, they can attract many harmful insects and bacteria that will negatively harm other plants growing in your yard.
The tree roots can also absorb water from the grass in your yard, leaving a duller dried-out look. This will not only ruin the aesthetic of your yard but also its health.
Neglecting this task might cause cracks in your driveway as well if the tree roots reach that far. It is not a rare occurrence when the roots’ strength overcome the pavement and create cracks.
So, getting rid of those tree roots can save you a lot of money, time, and your yard.
Getting rid of tree roots might sound like a hassle, but once the process is finally over, you never have to worry about it again!
Lucky for you, there are many methods to get to that desired outcome. So all you need to do is weigh out the pros and cons of each option.
If you’re in no rush, then using herbicides or rock salts will bode well.
If you enjoy a little gardening, then digging out those roots could be a fun activity.
If you just got a big raise at work, then why not splurge and get a professional!
It’s really all about what suits you most. Either way, you’ll end up with a clear, beautiful yard— ready to be filled with all sorts of wondrous plants.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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