A tree’s roots are its source of sustenance. They are what gives it life and the ability to thrive. Although sometimes, the roots of a tree can turn against it and strangle the tree; this is called root girdling.
How does root girdling happen?
Ideally, roots radiate outward from the tree. Girdling roots, however, wrap around the tree’s trunk. As the trunk and roots grow, the roots literally choke the tree. This results in the nutrient pipelines and water supply, that run underneath the tree’s bark, getting squeezed and cut off. These pipelines, under normal circumstances, allow vital nutrients to move up into the canopy of the tree. Without those channels, nutrients cannot reach the canopy of the tree. Likewise, the sugars that are manufactured in the leaves are unable to reach the roots. Therefore, any tree affected by girdling roots will slowly start to atrophy and, eventually, die. Root girdling can kill branches, one whole side of a tree, or even the entire tree itself.
Will Root Girdling Affect My Tree?
Here are a few tips on what to look for in your tree roots, and how to prevent girdling roots before they kill your tree.
Mind The Mulch
Roots thrive when they grow in mulch but make sure to keep it a minimum of 12 inches away from the trunk of your tree. An excessive layer of mulch, also known as a ‘mulch volcano’ around the base of a tree encourages unnatural root growth. These roots often grow above natural soil grade and become girdling roots that strangle the root flares and trunk.
Take A Walk
Look at the trees growing on your property. Are the roots radiating outward from the trunk? With younger trees, keep an eye out for any roots crossing the trunk in an unnatural or circular pattern. In larger, older trees, signs of root girdling include deteriorating branches or uneven growth in the canopy.
Certain trees are more vulnerable to having girdling roots than others. Species at a higher risk for root girdling include pines, lindens, magnolias and all varieties of the maple tree, other than silver maple.
Size Matters, Too
A tree suffering from root girdling may have branches with reduced growth or leaves that are smaller on one side of the tree than the other. These can be signs of a constricted nutrient pipeline. Trees without root girdling will have branches and leaves that look consistent throughout because its pipelines are not being compromised. Monitoring the size of your branches and leaves is also helpful following any treatment of root girdling.
Pieces of Flair
The trunk of a tree should flare, or radiate out, on all sides. Some species flare out more than others but if the trunk of your tree goes straight into the ground, appears to be indented or has roots that grow around the tree in a circular or crisscrossed pattern, then your tree could likely be suffering from root girdling.
What To Do About Root Girdling
At Superior Spray Service, we offer tree care services, including treatments for root girdling. If you have a tree that is dealing with this problem, our trained technicians can use selective pruning techniques to avoid damaging the tree’s trunk and it’s other healthy roots. We can also administer ArborJet Tree Injections, which furnishes your tree with missing and invaluable nutrients to help it recover from the nourishment lost by the disruption of the nutrient pipeline. Additionally, ArborJet’s deep root injections are great for the long term feeding of the tree’s root system. Our technicians also can treat your tree for any diseases that may have been acquired while in its vulnerable, malnourished state.
Superior Spray Service is proud to serve customers in Lakeland, Tampa, Orlando, and the surrounding Central Florida area.