Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > September 2016 > IN THE DIRT with DOUG - PLANT IT RIGHT

IN THE DIRT with DOUG - PLANT IT RIGHT

This past Saturday was our annual FALL GARDENER’S FAIR.  I conducted an educational seminar with my guest being Arborscapes.  We had a good turnout and all the questions and answers were very informative and enlightening.  And, I learned a lot more about stem root girdling of trees that I did not know before.
Fall is the ideal planting season for shrubs and trees.  But, more importantly is learning to plant properly for the long term health of the shrub or tree.  A couple of the questions from the audience, on the poor performance of trees in the landscape, boiled down to the problem being root girdling.
                Root girdling occurs when roots are tightly wrapped around the trunk.  Roots circle the base of a tree at or just below the soil surface.  Root girdling chokes off the flow of water and nutrients between the roots and the branches and food produced in the leaves from reaching the roots.  The end result of root girdling is the unacceptable performance of the tree and a premature death. 
                Some symptoms of stem girdling roots are early fall color and early leaf drop, abnormally small leaf size, excessive twig dieback, and leaning.
                Once root girdling is determined then root collar excavation must be performed on the tree.  Root collar excavation is the removal of soil and mulch from against the trunk of a tree to correct overly deep planting or over mulching.  Planting trees too deeply, and piling too much mulch around the base of a tree can cause root girdling and poor growth, which can lead to a decline in the health of a tree and potentially death.  To safely remove the compacted soil or mulch from around the base of the tree will require professional tree services using an air spade, which blows the soil away with compressed air.  Once the compacted soil is removed, the roots can easily be accessed and tended to.
                Factoid:                                Most tree roots are in the top 6 to 24 inches of soil and grow out from the trunk in a spreading manner ( the reason for needing to dig the hole twice as wide as the current root system).  The most common cause of stem girdling roots is that they develop as a result of trees being planted in too small of a hole or being planted too deeply.  When root systems are buried, less oxygen and water is available.  The roots will grow up towards the surface of the soil and tend to encircle the trunk.
                                                                                                HAPPY GARDENING
Posted: 9/28/2016 by Doug Hensel | with 0 comment(s)
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