Magnolia Roots Are Growing Through Mulch

Question From: Mercer Island, Washington, United States
Q: I mulched my very young star magnolia last fall with pine needles. In the spring I removed some of the mulch and found that many of the roots had grown up above the soil level and were sticking up into the mulch and into the air. Can't believe that this is very healthy for the tree. What mulch can I use that won't promote this phenomenon?

A: Roots surface when planted in compacted soil to search for oxygen. They also surface in mulch that has been layered more then 4 inches deep. Trees planted too deeply will also surface root. I recommend you get an onsite inspection from a certified arborist to sort out your tree's issues. To find one in your area go to and enter your zip code. Best And Happy Yardening, Nancy