What happens to tree roots when tree is cut down?

When a tree is cut down, its roots undergo a process of change and eventual decay. Here's what typically happens to tree roots after a tree has been removed:

  1. Root Death and Decay: When a tree is cut down, it is no longer able to photosynthesize and produce energy. As a result, the roots, which rely on the tree's energy supply, begin to die off. The process of root decay can take months to years, depending on various factors such as the tree species, soil conditions, and weather.

  2. Root Decomposition: Once the roots die, they become susceptible to decomposition by soil microorganisms. Bacteria, fungi, and other organisms break down the root material, returning nutrients to the soil. This decomposition process contributes to the natural nutrient cycle in the ecosystem.

  3. Root System Shrinkage: As the roots decay, they gradually lose mass and structure. This can lead to the shrinking of the root system, which means the volume of space occupied by the roots decreases over time. The extent of root system shrinkage depends on factors like the size of the tree and the type of soil.

  4. Aeration and Soil Improvement: The decay of tree roots can create pockets of air within the soil. This aeration can be beneficial for soil structure, allowing better water infiltration and root penetration for future plants. Additionally, the breakdown of organic material from the roots enriches the soil with organic matter, enhancing its fertility.

  5. Filling the Void: As the roots decay and the soil settles, the space previously occupied by the tree's root system may become filled with loose soil or other organic matter. This can create a void in the soil that could potentially lead to settling or subsidence, especially if the area is not properly filled or compacted.

  6. Root Regeneration: In some cases, the tree's roots may not completely die off. Some species are capable of producing new shoots from the root system even after the main tree has been cut down. These shoots, often referred to as "suckers," can grow into new trees if left unchecked.