Issue: June 22, 2002

Cutting pine tree roots


We have several large (40-feet tall) pine trees, whose surface roots are damaging sidewalks and patio concrete. Can these large roots be cut about 5 feet from the trunk to prevent further damage, or must these trees be removed?


At that distance from a large tree, the chances of damaging the tree are pretty high. If the tree does not die, or at least lose branches, its stability has been affected and the tree is much more likely to blow over in a high wind. The extent of this danger depends on the rest of the tree's root system. Just be aware you are removing a large part of the water and mineral gathering root surface, and a significant portion of the anchorage of the tree. The cost of removal may be high, but also consider roof damage if the tree falls. If you wish to keep the tree, an option is to build a boardwalk over the sidewalk and raised deck over the patio.

Removing basal branches from willow tree


I planted two willow trees last year. They seem to be doing well, but they have a lot of sprouts around the bottom. Should I cut them back so the tree grows better?


If the top of the tree is looking good, yes, remove the sprouts at the bottom. Low branches on the trunk are okay and help add diameter to the trunk, so they can stay for a couple of years. Anything coming from ground level or even about a foot above the ground should be removed.

Gladiolus and daffodil not planted yet


I have some daffodil and gladiolus bulbs that I haven't planted. Can I plant them now? Should I store them for later?


The gladiolus should be planted. They may or may not bloom this summer. They should be able to produce foliage and feed the bulb, keeping it in much better condition than if the corms are just stored.

The daffodils may be stored in the refrigerator in some moist vermiculite or sand. Do not over-moisten and do not freeze them. Plant the daffodils in the fall. They can also be planted now but will not develop leaves until late in the winter. In either case, if they have not deteriorated too much, they may survive and at least produce leaves next year. If they survive, they may not bloom for a couple of years.

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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!