Girdling Root Syndrome

Fall 2012





Many times there can be problems below the soil where we can’t see.  Certainly this is usually the case with most root problems of the trees.  Girdling roots can be devastating to the tree if left untouched.  So what should you look for?

•    Reduced of slowed growth
•    Thinning or lack of leaves at the top of the tree
•    Deformation of the natural shape of the crown
•    Trunk splitting or cracking at ground level
•    Lack of or no visible root flare present where the trunk enters the ground (like a telephone pole)

Most of the time these issues start to appear just as the tree starts to become an important part of the landscape.  The reason for the delay is because it takes the roots some time to grow and cause these issues.  Any type of tree can be susceptible to girdling root syndrome.  The ones that we see most are Maples and Lindens.  Early detection is very important in helping the tree survive.  We have a tool that we use to do a root collar exam.  This tool is called an airspade.  An airspade is based on a compressed air system.  It is used to move the soil away from the tree without damaging the roots of the tree.  Once the soil is removed we are then able to selectively remove any roots that are girdling the tree.

Prevention is important.  Avoid the “volcano mulching.”  If the base of the tree has soil or mulch piled high around it, the roots will grow in that soil thus causing it to grow in a circling pattern.  Another good preventative measure is performing a root collar exam on any tree that has been in the landscape for 5-10 years.  This will check for soil buildup and will allow us to remove any circling roots before they become a problem.  So the next time you are looking over your landscaping, please ask yourself, “Do I see a good root flare?”  Or, does it look more like a telephone pole stuck in the ground?  If you think that you have a problem please call us right away.