Q&A: Taming Maple Tree Roots

Tips on how to prevent a tree's roots from spreading.

armstrong red maple has upright columnar habit

Q: How can we prevent maple tree roots from coming up in our flower beds? Last summer they choked out all we had, leaving no room for anything else to grow.

A: You're dealing with a formidable opponent! Tree roots can extend well beyond the canopy of the crown of a tree. Maple trees are especially aggressive, developing an incredible network of surface feeder roots. These roots seek moisture and nutrients and will out-compete the roots of annuals and perennials by virtue of their stronger drawing power. The roots gravitate to the soil of your flower beds because of the moisture that's available there. Outside of digging your beds, lining them with hardware cloth or tough weed barrier, replacing the soil and then planting your annuals and perennials, there's really no way of keeping the tree roots out. You may want to relocate your flower beds or garden in raised beds (with hardware cloth attached to the bottoms of the beds).

— National Gardening Association

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