C’mon, show us your flare! Why tree root flares should be exposed.
July 9, 2015
Some tree health concerns aren’t obvious, while others could be staring you right in the face. One of the biggest contributors to tree decline is a simple one; your tree was planted too deep. Or, too much soil or mulch has been moved up against the base of your tree. If you can’t see your tree’s root flare, your tree could be in trouble.
What is a root flare?
The root flare is the area around the base of the trunk where support roots emerge. If the root flare is damaged or does not develop properly, your tree can become unstable and become a hazard. Many of the trees we see uprooted and fallen after storms had a damaged root flare. If you can’t see your tree’s root flare then you should have it exposed.
Signs that your tree’s root flare might not be properly exposed:
- Premature defoliation in the fall or delayed leaf set in the spring
- Poor shoot elongation which gives the appearance that the foliage is hugging close to the branches.
- Your tree looks like a telephone pole coming out of the ground. Ideally, you should see the tops of roots coming out of the bottom of the trunk, partially above the soil line.
Neither of these trees have enough root flare showing. This will cause potential problems down the road.
Why are buried root flares bad?
When trees are planted too deeply, or the soil slowly moves, heaves and covers root flares, a few bad things can happen:
- Too much soil built up around the base of the tree can suffocate feeder roots, stressing your tree.
- Moisture from soil covering the root flare can soften tree bark, allowing pathogens and insects to penetrate the bark and damage your tree. Think of an open wound on a tree just as you would an injury on your skin. The last thing you want is for the wound to become infected. Preventing a cut in the first place is key to keeping trees healthy.
- Girdling roots could be choking your tree. When your tree’s root flare is buried, you may not see girdling roots. These girdling roots can “choke” the tree by limiting uptake of water, nutrients and oxygen.
What is root flare exposure?
Root flare exposure treatment involves removing soil from the area immediately around the trunk of the tree using special equipment. Once the soil is removed, we check for root color deterioration, girdling or choking roots, wires, ground cover or excessive soil accumulation. To safely and gently remove the soil, and expose the roots, we use a high-pressure air spade so no important roots are damaged during the excavation process.
Does this tree root situation look familiar? The root crossing over the top of the other roots is a girdled root that needs to be removed.
For more information on how we expose your root flare and why, visit our services page. Ready to show us your roots? Give us a call for a consultation.