What is Soil Compaction?


Soil compaction is a common issue in home landscapes and on commercial properties. When the soil is compacted, porous spaces are reduced. Since tree roots need those porous spaces for growth and absorption of water and nutrients, a tree living in compacted soil will struggle. There will be less root growth and low soil oxygen levels.

Compaction is sometimes caused by vehicles or equipment moving near and under trees. However, even foot traffic can result in compaction over time. When compaction is present, cultivating that soil is critical to improving growing conditions.

One of the most effective ways to treat soil compaction and tree decline is with Root Invigoration™, a treatment that was developed and patented by The Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories. The treatment program begins with an evaluation of the tree and its site to determine the size of the treatment area and which soil amendments are needed. Soil samples may also be collected to determine the exact needs of the tree.

Tilling compacted soil with AirSpade™ and Root Invigoration™
Tilling soil using high pressure air with a tool called an AirSpade™.

When the crew arrives, they will remove any turf that remains in the treatment area. Soil will be tilled using high pressure air with a tool called an AirSpade™. The beauty of this tool is that it tills the soil without damaging roots. Once the area is tilled, organic amendments including biochar and fertilizer will be applied and then incorporated into the soil. Next, mulch is applied over the root-invigorated soil. This reduces the soil temperature, reduces water evaporation, and provides a future source of organic matter.

All that is left to do is to water the area each day for the next week or so to activate the full potential of the treatment.

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