Girdling Roots Are Tree Killers
April 30, 2018
Girdling roots can mean a death sentence for your beloved tree...but you might not even notice them, or know what they are.
WHAT ARE GIRDLING ROOTS?
A girdling root develops when a root begins to circle and coil around the base of the tree trunk. Over time, as the root continues to enlarge, they inhibit proper trunk growth and the proper transfer of water and nutrients up into the tree.
WHAT CAUSES GIRDLING ROOTS?
Girdling roots can be common in both container-grown and ball-and-burlap trees that have been left in their container or burlap bag too long. The roots don’t have anywhere else to go but around..and around!
Girdling roots can also be caused by not removing twine or wire from the root ball before planting, planting the tree too deep, allowing too much soil to pile up around the base of the tree, or by allowing dense ground cover to grow around the base of the tree.
CAN YOU SEE THE FLARE?
The first sign your tree might be suffering from girdling roots is an unexposed root flare. If you can’t see the tree’s root flare - meaning the tree trunk looks like it’s growing perpendicular out of the ground like a telephone pole - you might have a problem. A tree’s trunk should flare out to the side where it meets the soil. When a tree’s root flare is covered up with soil, oxygen is limited, and roots may grow around the trunk under the excess soil.
MORE SYMPTOMS OF GIRDLING ROOTS
- early leaf drop in the fall
- delayed leaf emergence in the spring
trees look nutrient-deficient
tree canopy is thin
dieback in upper tree canopy
leaves are wilted, scorched, or smaller than normal
poor shoot elongation
TREATMENT: ROOT FLARE EXPOSURE
Once our certified arborists identify girdled roots, the next step is to correct it as quickly as possible before any further girdling or decay occurs. Root flare exposure can be accomplished by excavating of the soil around the base of the tree by an AirSpade, a tool that removes soil without damage to the roots and tissue. Further work could be needed to remove thick ground cover. We then also suggest aerating the soil around the base of the tree. Then, we’ll cut and remove any girdling roots to alleviate the pressure on the tree trunk.
Think your tree has girdling roots? Contact us today for an Arborist Evaluation with one of our certified arborists!