Don’t bury, cut, dig or shave off these important roots. Covering or damaging the roots creates entryways for insects and diseases to enter and damage or kill your tree.
Mulch is a simple solution. Use a 2 to 3 inch layer on the soil surrounding the tree and be sure to keep the bark away from the trunk.
Shade tolerant perennials and groundcovers are another option. Carefully plant between major roots and let the plants fill in the area. New plantings will need to be watered regularly.
Add a splash of color with a few potted annuals set them among the perennial groundcovers. Or permanently sink a few pots in the ground and set potted flowers in them. It’s easier on the tree roots and your back.
A bit more information: Use caution when planting under mature trees. Deep tilling can damage, not only the surface roots, but also the fine feeder roots that absorb water and nutrients. Instead dig relatively small holes, mulch and spot water new plantings. It may take a bit longer for them to fill in, but your tree will be healthier and longer lived.
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