Save Your Tree From Girdling Roots
Improper planting depth and excessive mulch can be the death of a tree.
The gentle root flare at the base of a tree needs to be visible. When the trunk rises out of the ground or mulch bed like a telephone pole, we most always find a tree that is on its way to long-term health problems.
Excessive soil and mulch over the root flare encourages the growth of girdling roots, which are roots that grow around the trunk or across lateral anchor roots of a tree. These girdling roots cut off the vascular movement of water and nutrients between the roots and the leaves in the canopy.
While mulch is good at maintaining soil moisture, suppressing weeds, and minimizing soil compaction, it should never be more than 2-3” deep and should be kept several inches away from the bark. Besides encouraging girdling roots, mulch “volcanoes” slowly suffocate a tree and provide access and safe harbor for voles that love to feed on tree roots.
When such conditions are identified, we may recommend re-establishing the proper soil grade with an air spade that uses highly compressed air to safely remove excess soil and mulch without damaging the tree’s root system. We cut any girdling roots and then backfill exposed roots (maintaining a visible root flare) with a blend of compost, soil and mediums that help resist soil compaction.