A tree's root system is extensive, spreading far underground beyond the edges of the canopy. The roots provide water and nutrients to the tree and serve as an anchor to keep it upright and structurally stable. Given their critical role in tree health, it is important to provide roots proper care.
The first thing to look for is the root collar, the transition area between a tree’s trunk and its roots. There should be a visible flare. The tree should not grow straight from the ground like a telephone pole. When the root collar is buried under soil or mulch, the bark will remain damp, which can result in disease. A buried root collar may also hide issues such as girdling roots.
Though too much mulch piled against the trunk and covering the root collar is bad, a thin layer of mulch is ideal to protect tree roots. Among other things, mulch can help minimize the compaction force of foot traffic under the tree.
Compaction reduces porous spaces in the soil, making it difficult for roots to extend and absorb water and nutrients. If soil is compacted it should be tilled and amended with organic matter and nutrients. Addressing soil issues will provide ideal growth conditions for roots and result in stronger, healthier trees.
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