Shear strength of the root permeated soil increases due to the mechanical effects of root reinforcement and most of the past studies have been conducted to capture this effect under saturated soil conditions. However, the soil adjacent to the tree roots is usually in an unsaturated condition and this leads to alterations in root-soil interaction mechanisms and associated shear strength of the root permeated soil system. In this paper, the increment in shear strength is studied considering both the effect of suction and root reinforcement patterns. A number of direct shear tests were conducted for different suction levels in root-permeated and unreinforced soil specimens. The results indicate that the shear strength behaviour of the soil-root system is governed by the level of suction and root failure patterns and a new mathematical model incorporating the effect of both parameters is proposed.