The Why and How of Root Collar Excavations

November 18, 2016
Girdling Roots preventing efficient nutrient uptake for this red maple.

Girdling Roots preventing efficient nutrient uptake for this red maple.

Root Collar Excavations

As Arborists, we often encounter trees that have been planted too deeply, have excessive amounts of mulch piled onto their trunks (see: Proper Mulching), or have had the soil around them compacted due to construction or excessive foot traffic.

In all of these cases the tree’s health will be negatively impacted due to the disruption of nutrient flow in the root system. This lack of nutrient uptake stresses the tree, and if left unchecked could result in insect and disease infestation, girdling roots, or death.

 

 What is the solution?

Root Zone Aeration employs the use of an air spade to loosen the soil, decrease compaction, allow for any root pruning to prevent girdling roots, and add missing organic material and nutrients back into the soil.

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Above: Airspade- A fiberglass tube containing a nozzle and trigger, powered by compressed air.

To perform a Root Zone Aeration we first obtain a soil sample to analyze organic content, nutrient, and pH levels. An Arborist will then implement the use of an air spade device which uses compressed air to remove soil and mulch away from the trunk and any compressed roots.

If needed, any root pruning will be done, and necessary nutrients and compost are incorporated back into the soil. The area is then mulched to a depth of 2-3″ and then watered to replace lost soil moisture.

Root Zone Aeration can also be implemented as a preventative measure prior to construction projects. By identifying the root zone, you can take necessary measures to avoid damaging it. This is something to consider when adding additions to your home, installing irrigation systems, or installing sidewalks and other hardscapes.

Unsure if your next project is going to impact your trees, or do you suspect your tree may have girdling roots? Contact us today, and meet with one of our Consulting Arborists to have the situation diagnosed.

Before Root Zone Aeration: Compacted soil was causing this tree stress, and the grass was competing with the tree for water and nutrients.

Before Root Zone Aeration:
Compacted soil was causing this tree stress, and the grass was competing with the tree for water and nutrients.

During Root Zone Aeration: An Arborist uses an Air Spade to loosen the soil and incorporate organic material.

During Root Zone Aeration:
An Arborist uses an Air Spade to loosen the soil and incorporate organic material.

After Root Zone Aeration: A larger mulch ring will improve plant health. Any girdling roots will have been removed, and will be replaced by the tree with health fibrous roots.

After Root Zone Aeration:
A larger mulch ring will improve plant health. Any girdling roots will have been removed, and will be replaced by the tree with health fibrous roots.