How to Cut a Root to a Tree

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Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure

  • Shovel

  • Bow saw

Surface tree roots require less effort than buried ones.

Tree roots can become a problem when they grow under sidewalks, driveways or near septic systems. Sometimes tree roots even wrap around the tree trunk, known as girdling, and kill the tree. An effective way to stop damage from the tree root is to cut it off from the tree, which stops the flow of nutrients. However, you must use the proper cutting technique or the entire tree will die.


Step 1

Wrap a tape measure around the trunk of the tree approximately 4 1/2 feet above the ground and make a note of the measurement in inches.

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Step 2

Multiply the number you measured by 6 to arrive at the total number of feet away from the tree you should cut. For example, if the trunk diameter is 26 inches, multiply it by 6 to arrive at 156 inches. Divide 156 by 12 to arrive at 13 feet away from the tree.


Step 3

Place the end of the tape measure on the ground at the base of the tree trunk. Measure out to the number of feet you calculated.

Step 4

Dig down until you reach the root if it is underground. If the root is on the surface of the soil, digging is not required.


Step 5

Cut through the root from the top using a bow saw until you have completely severed the root in two pieces. Make the cut straight down and as clean as possible with no jagged edges.

Step 6

Fill the hole back in with soil, if applicable.


Do not cut more than two tree roots or you may kill the tree.



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