Question: How can I eliminate surface roots under my big shade trees? Do I cut or cover them?

Answer: Most trees have the majority of their major roots in the top foot of soil, so this is a very common question. It’s generally easiest to live with them. Consider a tall groundcover that could conceal them. However, if you do want to eliminate one or two of them, cut them in October or November, once the hottest weather has passed. You should probably not cut more than a couple of major roots in any given year. Covering is a very bad idea, as the roots will just grow larger and larger and crowd their way out of the soil. Before long you’ll have a mound of soil around the trunk and the roots will still be showing.