Ask a Consulting Arborist Q&A: Root and Soil Concerns

Q: Can an avocado tree's roots be pruned without hurting it?

Friday, July 29, 2016  

Q: I have a backyard fireplace that has been lifted up on one side by the roots of my avocado tree, which is quite large. Is there any way to dig under the fireplace and excise a portion of the roots without hurting it to allow the fireplace to drop back down?

A: When pruning roots, try to estimate what percentage of the overall roots you would be removing. Generally, it is probably not a good idea to remove more than 20-25% of the overall tree's roots. Try to consider if there will be enough roots left for the tree to survive after root pruning. Any cuts made should be made cleanly with something like a chainsaw; don't chop them with an axe. The root(s) must be pretty big for them to lift a fireplace, so hire a Consulting Arborist or Certified Arborist with root pruning experience to do the work, not just a laborer or a gardener.

Responder: Ted Lubeshkoff, RCA #513, Arcadia, CA