Q -- My problem is the roots of my silver maple. They are above ground; so are the roots of my neighbor's Siberian elm. Can I remove the roots without jeopardizing the tree?

A -- It's risky to cut off the large roots of a tree; a lot of the small ones can be removed without risk. The large roots support the tree, and if too many are cut a heavy wind may blow the tree over. It cannot be assumed that in addition to the large roots near the surface there may be other big ones down below in the soil. Oaks usually have a root system a foot or more below the soil surface, but not silver maples.

Q -- How soon do I have to remove the snow from azaleas and other shrubs ?

A -- It's best to do it as soon as possible after it stops snowing, Snow can turn to ice, and ice acts as a magnifying glass. It concentrates the sun's rays on leaves or needles and scorching occurs, and brown or dead patches appear in the spring. Remove snow and ice by gently lifting branches and shaking off the accumulation with a broom or large brush.

Q -- Can the ashes from our fireplace be used in the garden ?

A -- They have a certain value, but it's limited. If they are used, they should be collected and stored in a dry place. If they are piled outdoors and exposed to the weather, much of the already-low nutrient value will be leached away.

Q -- After eight months of marriage, we have just completed our new home. It was so expensive that there's no money left over for landscaping, and the yard is very bare. Can you suggest some inexpensive or nocost shrubs we might use ?

A -- Most folks overlook the expense of landscaping when they build a home. Acctually, 5 to 8 percent of the total cost should be set aside for improving the grounds. Your best bet is to formulate a simple landscape development plan, and plant only according to the plan.

Friends, family and neighbors may offer excess plants and seed; to accept and grow most of them would be a mistake. Use only those that would do something for house and yard.

If you're inexperienced in the world of plants, it will pay in the long run to consult a landscape gardener or landscape architect. This will prevent having to move large plants in years to come.