Issue: March 30, 1998

Roots from cut trees growing?


I had two medium-large maple trees removed about March 1, and the stumps are about six inches high. The roots were damaging the driveway, so more root growth would be serious.

I've heard that roots grow in the late winter and early spring, so I wonder how long these damaging roots will keep growing after the trees were removed, and how I can reduce the remaining growth?


I wouldn't worry too much about continued root growth. It is true that they are still alive for a while, but they need leaves to feed them if they are to grow. Since the trees have been cut and the stumps are small, you will just want to assure that the stumps do not sprout to provide food for root growth. Even so, with sprouts or especially without the sprouts only very limited root growth is possible. Other than leaves, the only source of food is food (carbohydrates) stored in the roots themselves; the large roots with stored carbohydrates must shrink to feed the growth of smaller roots and even the production of sprouts from the trunk. There is no net growth and shrinkage of the larger, offending roots. So, the roots which have been a problem can only shrink without leaves to provide food for their growth.

With no leaves, the roots will begin dying soon. Within a year I would expect that there will be no new growth. Continue to watch for sprouting from the roots. With maple, you should have little concern for sprouts being produced from the roots at a distance from the tree. This would be a problem with poplars, willows, and a few other trees. If there are any new shoots produced from the roots in maple, mowing should do an adequate job of keeping them from establishing and feeding root growth.

So, to answer your question concisely, there is very little likelihood for this to continue once the trees have been cut down. As the roots decompose, then you will have tunnels or voids which may form under the pavement where the roots once existed, so you might watch for cave-in or further cracking at the point of previous damage.

New Mexico Forest Re-leaf tax check off


As I was doing my New Mexico state taxes, I noticed the box I could check to give money to New Mexico Forest Re-Leaf. What can you tell me about that?


The following information was provided by Wendy Kent, New Mexico Forest Re-Leaf forester.

Wendy said that New Mexico Forest Re-Leaf is a state-wide grant program created by the Legislature in 1990 to promote conservation. Since 1990, over 8,000 trees and shrubs have been planted.

While the New Mexico Forestry Division provides money for administrative costs, the grant money for planting trees is provided totally by donations from individuals, local businesses, corporations, and foundations. The check-off you saw on your state income tax form is the source of one-half of the money used to fund these grants.

To receive funds from New Mexico Forest Re-Leaf, a proposal must be submitted. These grants are available to public entities, cities, counties, school districts, etc., but not to private individuals. Guidelines for proposal submission are available from Wendy Kent, Forestry Division, Bernalillo District Office, P.O. Box 458, Bernalillo, NM 87004, or call her at (505) 867-2334. Only those projects which are best thought out and designed are selected for funding. In selecting projects to fund, the following factors are given strong consideration:

  1. Will it be successful and accomplish its purpose?
  2. Are proper tree and shrub species selected for the site?
  3. Will the trees live? Grant recipients must agree to replace trees that die. It is important that this money be spent on projects which are productive.

Global Re-Leaf is a similar nation-wide program and several other states have their own individual programs. Each is different and designed to be effective in its state.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!