A tree gets its water and necessary nutrients from its roots. If a part of the root system is damaged, a tree will suffer proportionately. Even more, since roots anchor and support a tree, a damaged root system will compromise it structural integrity. With roots playing such a vital role in the health of a tree, their management is an essential part of tree care. That’s why Westcoast Tree Care would like to provide you with the following information about the hidden dangers of what you can’t see underground.
What’s Happening Below
Tree roots extend far beyond the base of a tree. That’s because the roots of a tree grow towards the water and resources they need. Depending on the species of a tree and the soil conditions around it, small feeder roots can be located in the top 12 inches of solid while larger, structural roots can grow several feet down.
Porous soil allows for better root growth and absorption of water and nutrients. However, when the soil becomes compacted, these porous spaces are reduced, making it difficult for roots to feed and hydrate a tree. This is a common issue found in urban and suburban areas where trees coexist with people, buildings, roads, and other structures. Soil compaction and poor aeration are often the main cause of tree failure on commercial sites followed by improper irrigation.
The Dangerous Cover-Up
As the old saying goes, “the cover-up of a mistake causes more trouble than the mistake itself.” This often relates to trees. When soil or excessive mulch is piled against the lower trunk and root collar areas of a tree, problems with a root system are easily covered up.
Excessive soil often covers up girdling roots that slowly strangle a tree. This restricts the movement of water and nutrients. When soil is up against the bark of a tree it remains damp which can, in turn, result in an infection by root attacking fungi such as Armillaria and Phytophthora. Girdling roots should be removed but must be done with care by a certified arborist to minimize injury to the tree that could impact its overall health.
Visible Above Ground Symptoms
Even though you can’t see what’s going on below ground with the roots of a tree, there are visible, problematic symptoms to look out for. These include:
- Yellowing foliage or early leaf coloration
- Deadwood or upper branch dieback
- Dark areas on the trunk or visible roots
- Visible growth of mushrooms or fungi
- Abnormal swelling of the base of the trunk
The problem here, however, is that many of these symptoms take years to develop after root damage has occurred. This means a tree can be living in a weakened state for a long period of time. This not only makes a tree susceptible to pests and diseases, it can also make it more prone to overall failure under any condition.
Getting To The Root Of The Problem
Keep in mind, the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality can be very dangerous. The best thing you can do as a homeowner is to protect your trees while keeping their roots in mind in order to prevent damage from happening in the first place.
Be proactive about your preventative tree care by avoiding root cutting activities. This includes digging, construction, landscape maintenance, etc. It’s also important to avoid piling snow against the trunk of a tree and it’s exposed roots while being mindful of the use of deicing salts.
Whidbey Island Tree Care
If you think a tree on your property may have a damaged root system it’s important to contact a certified arborist to access any warning signs along with any risks of danger when it comes to the safety of your home and loved ones. Early preventative tree care can often remedy smaller problems before they become bigger more expensive ones down the road. If you would like more information or would like to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation quote, contact Westcoast Tree Care at 1.800.767.8733.