We have two silver maples approximately 22 years of age. We have a small yard and half of it is taken up by roots. We can not get grass to grow and soil erosion has become a problem. The trees are about 20 feet away from the house. What are some options for the roots that are on the surface? Can they be covered with top soil and grass planted, or can they be cut back without killing the trees?

Maples inherently grow their roots very close to the surface where it is more readily able to take up water and nutrients. The roots can be covered up with soil but only at a rate of one-quarter to one-half inch per year which can take years to get enough soil for turf. Putting more soil down than that any one year would have ill affect on your trees. Root pruning can be done in some cases but it is recommended you have an arborist look at the situation and detrmine what can and can not be cut. It becomes very easy to cut too much of the root system and lose your trees. The other option is to extend the mulch bed and abandon trying to grow grass in this area.

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