Root Flare Exposure Exposed!
November 9, 2016
There are many indications that let us know a tree is not in optimum health. Some are more obvious than others, such as small or malformed leaves and premature leaf drop. What you might not notice is the area at the lowest part of the tree where the trunk spreads and begins to form root tissue. This crucial area of the tree is called the root flare. Multiple issues can occur when this root flare is covered up with soil, including susceptibility to pests and diseases and even death of the tree. This is of one of the problems we see on a regular basis in urban landscapes.
How did this happen?
The root flare on certain trees sinks below grade after being planted due to settling soil. Or, the tree was planted too deep in their original container, or in the landscape, and the root flare has long been buried. Many unknowing homeowners, and even some professional landscapers, mound up excessive amounts of soil, mulch or ground cover around the base of the tree. This allows moisture to concentrate at the base of the tree trunk, which can eventually lead to infection and disease, causing the tree tissue to rot. If this situation is not remedied swiftly, the tree will soon beyond repair. When caught early, there are usually ways for an arborist to assess and fix the problem(s).
The Solution: Soil Aeration
To remove soil from the base of the trunk, we use a pneumatic air spade to gently break up compacted soil into small particles while protecting the roots from damage. This process carefully exposes the root flare of the trunk and allows us to see what’s been going on beneath the soil line. Once all the soil is out of the way, we often find damaged tissue in the inner bark that has begun to decompose.
Sometimes there are wires, ropes or twine left from the original planting of the tree. And other times, we find twisted, girdling roots that slowly squeeze the life out of the tree. Tree roots not only need water, but also oxygen to survive. This kind of girdling blocks the flow of oxygen and water to the root system and stunts the growth of the tree. Once revealed, we can selectively remove problematic roots and get your tree on the road to recovery.
Unsure what’s going on beneath the surface of your soil? Call your local arborist to talk to your trees.