2 Common Tree Root Problems You Should Know

Posted on: 1 October 2021

Being buried underground, roots are the parts of your trees that probably receive the least direct attention. However, a healthy root system is vital to support your trees both physically and nutritionally.

Knowing how to spot root issues in the trees in your yard can save you from an unexpected disaster that could happen if one of your trees fell on your home. Here are two common tree root problems you should know.

1. Lawn Overgrowth

Trees in your lawn may look nice, but they can often experience problems due to the conditions of the soil or turf. Tree roots will naturally expand until the diameter of the root system is approximately the same as the drip line or the edge of the tree canopy where water drips to the ground.

In a lawn or yard, trees are often confined to spaces smaller than they would naturally develop into. Furthermore, tree roots in irrigated lawns tend to stick very close to the surface where water is abundant. These factors can cause roots to overgrow and emerge from the surface, where they create tripping hazards and unwanted obstacles for your lawnmower.

Mulching in a wide circle around the base of your trees will help to contain overgrowth by reducing the amount of moisture on the soil's surface. If possible, keep sprinklers and other irrigation systems away from your trees and focused on other areas of your yard.

2. Girdling

Girdling occurs when tree roots grow around and constrict the trunk of a tree. Girdling creates a tourniquet effect that cuts off important water capillaries inside the tree. Severe girdling can kill trees by constricting their circulation completely.

Girdling can occur when the roots of a tree are constricted in very early development. Most often, a girdled tree has been left in the planter for too long or was planted in a hole that was too narrow. You should also break off any roots that appear to be encircling the main stem before planting to minimize the risk of girdling.

Trees naturally begin to flare outward near the base of the trunk where the roots branch away. Trees with girdling roots may have no apparent root flare, with trunks that are the same size or even narrower at the base. If you notice this symptom in your trees, consult an arborist to make a plan to remove the girdling roots without damaging the main stem of the tree.

The health of your trees is always dependent on the health of their roots. Watch out for these common tree root problems so you can be a better caretaker for your trees!