Garden Care

Cypress Tree Root Removal: When And How To Do It?

Landscape maintenance, structural issues, and safety concerns are just a few among many reasons why some gardeners resort to cypress tree root removal.

While the process is not very complex, there are still tips beginners should keep in mind – and my guide will dig into them in detail. Keep scrolling!

About Cypress Tree 



Cypress belongs to the coniferous branch of the Cupressaceea family, recognized through their evergreen foliage, slender, tall form, and pyramid shapes.

With their impressive adaptability and durability – especially in tough soil conditions and climates – cypress has become every gardener’s favorite for decades.


The trees are further broken down into smaller species groups, each distinguished by their own unique characteristics. Some more commonly-known categories include: 

Bald Cypress (or Taxodium Distichum)

  • Growing up in the South of the United States
  • Found along riverbanks or in swamps
  • Known for its feathery leaves and the unique aerial roots (or “knees”) protruding from wetland water.

Mediterranean Cypress (or Cupressus Sempervirens)

  • Common in the Mediterranean regions, hence its name
  • Characterized by the dark green foliages and columnar, tall shapes
  • Often cultivated for landscaping and ornamental purposes

Leyland Cypress (or X Cuprocyparis Leylandii):

  • The hybrid of Nootka and Monterey cypress, often used as windbreaks and privacy screens
  • Dense foliage and fast growth

Hinoki Cypress (or Chamaecyparis Obtusa)

  • Originating from Japan, as evident in its name
  • Small to middle-sized, known for their attractively scented foliage/wood
  • Often found in traditional garden accents or Japanese architecture

Despite the very diverse and extensive varieties, most cypresses are praised for their wood values and strong resistance to insect damage and decay.

Their aesthetic appeals and amazing shades are also appreciated, bringing serenity and calm to any garden and forest.

Like red maples, cypress roots are not very invasive, but this tree distinctively produces knees, which is a real eyesore in the garden.

When Should Cypress Tree Root Removal Occur? 

Although the specific timing for cypress tree removal varies across different tree needs and climates, the safest bet is the dormant season, dry weather, or after the tree’s health system is already fully established.

For beginners, let’s make it clear first: by root removal, I mean getting rid of cypress knees, not the root ball.

You can easily notice these “roots” sprouting around the tree’s base, and they’re scientifically called “knees.”

Dormant Season

Experts often recommend removing parts of the bald cypress roots during dormant periods (when the trees are not actively developing).

That means late autumn and early winter with minimal sap flows will be the best options, promoting faster healing and reducing unwanted stress on your cypress.

Dry Weather

Working with the knee removals upon relatively dry soil will be very advisable. Too-wet soil not only slows down the process, but also poses potential risks of damage to your surrounding area.

Observing The Cypress’ Health

Do not forget to observe how the cypress grows before proceeding.

If the knees still play a very huge role in stabilizing your entire tree, it would be much better to leave things the way they are. You do not want to risk disrupting its stability and root system, do you? 

Consulting Professional Advice

Still unsure about your tree’s specific care or perfect timing for the removal? I suggest turning to a tree professional or arborist for more advice.

They will assess the cypress’s condition to provide more guidelines on the right timing and method, ensuring the cypress knees removal is done without issues.

How To Get Rid of Cypress Knees? Steps to Cypress Tree Root Removal


Dig a trench around the base and make a sweeping, clean horizontal cut on the knee.

During the next 2-3 weeks after the cypress tree knees removal, inspect damage signals (if any) and whether new cypress knees keep coming.

Step 1. Inspect The Cypress Knees.

Walk around the yard or garden to assess which knees should be instantly cut off.

Look for those that may pose structural issues, present safety concerns (tripping your children, for instance), or obstruct pathways.

Step 2. Choose The Best Time For The Cypress Knee Removal

As mentioned above, it would be best to remove the knees in dormant seasons (fall/winter). Also, ensure the soil is dry at the time to smooth out your removal procedure.

Step 3. Gather Necessary Tools

When the time comes, arrive at the planting sites with everything prepared:

  • Spade or shovel
  • Hand saw
  • Protective gear (safety glasses, gloves, etc.)

Step 4. Dig Around Your Cypress

Now dig small trenches around the knee’s base with your spade or shovel, preferably 2-3 inches deep. Avoid damaging other vegetation or nearby roots.

Step 5. Cut Your Cypress Horizontally

Now that the knee’s base is fully exposed, cut it off horizontally with your hand saw – a few inches underneath the soil surfaces.

The cut should be as straight and clean as possible to reduce damage and promote a faster healing process.

Step 6. Discard The Knee

Once cutting the knee, remove it from the planting site and discard it properly. Double-check the local regulations to see whether there is any disposal rule you must comply with.

Step 7. Monitor and Take Care Of The Cypress

Monitor your cypress every day for at least 2-3 weeks to see if the cut damages or disrupts the tree’s nutrient flow. Repeat the same steps as above if any intruding cypress knee emerges.

Extra Tips During The Cypress Tree Stump Removal

  • Does the soil feel too compacted for digging? Water the area for 1-2 days before the removal. Still, remember not to overdo it or make the soil overly moist.
  • When working with more stubborn or large cypress knees, consider using root pruners to make the cuts cleaner.
  • Once the knee is removed, you may apply actual tree sealant or wound dressing to the newly-cut area, which helps protect the cypress from possible decay or infection.
  • Do cypress knees grow back? Yes. Hence, cutting the knee when it is still small/manageable will be highly recommended. Not only is the task carried out much smoother, but further complications will also be kept at bay.


A cypress tree root removal can be done as quickly as 3-4 minutes. But how to do it while also preventing possible root damage and injury is another story altogether.

Keep in mind my removal guides and the extra follow-up tips to ensure beautiful, strong growth for your cypress. Write to me if further support is needed.

Samuel Mark

Hello I am Samuel. Samuel's Garden is a garden blog where I share my experiences in garden caring and tree growth. Hope you enjoy it!

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  1. Hello Samuel. I live in Clermont Fl, not far from Orlando. I have several Cypress Trees along my lake, they are not in water, a good 5-6 feet away. I had 4 removed last fall. I am wanting to remove the Knees next week of the ones remaining. Would you recommend a Stump Grinder??
    The ones that were removed, I cut the Knees horizontally as close to the ground as possible. I would like to use the stump grinder on those cut. Do you recommend using the stump grinder on the remaining Knees under the remaining live trees? Or cut them with a chain saw instead?
    The trees just started to leaf out, so I am too late this year?? Thank you for your advice. Eric.

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