News and Blog Articles
News and Blog Articles
The likely culprit in all these situations: Roots!
The unsuspecting happily plant trees too close to buildings or other structures, sidewalks, pavement, and even each other, where their roots will cause all kinds of trouble down the road. City establishments are repeat offenders when it comes to planting trees too close to a sidewalk or playground; what they’re hoping will provide shade and a general enhanced aesthetic ends up destroying the walkway and poses a tripping risk for children.
They are also at risk of suffocation from compacted soil; the ground can become denser when heavy machinery drives over it repeatedly, and this reduces the oxygen concentration as well as the water flow, which in turn can cause root rot and death.
Unfortunately, about 90% of a tree’s root system lives in the first 12 to 18 inches of soil, meaning even surface-level alterations, like digging a new flower bed, can lead to root damage. Even worse, the effects of root damage can take 5 to 10 years to show in the tree itself, so you might not even realize you’ve disturbed anything until a lot later down the line
So What Can You Do?
The easiest answer is simple: account for the roots!
To avoid roots damaging the things around them, don’t plant trees too close to anything, even each other. The rule of thumb when it comes to how big a tree’s root system will grow is that roots will most often mirror the tree they support; so however big you’re expecting your tree to get, you can expect the same size and spread underground, though without the leaves
If you’re hoping to establish a privacy fence with a row of Leyland Cypresses, make sure you know how far apart they need to be; otherwise, they’ll crowd each other and end up competing for resources, and you’ll end up with some dead trees and a lot of holes in your privacy fence.
What About Established Trees?
Unfortunately, once a tree is established, there isn’t much you can do to curb the spread of its roots—except removing the tree entirely, which will kill the root system. If you’re concerned about the root system of an established tree on your property, schedule a free estimate with us today, and we’ll come out to give you our professional opinion on whether or not the root system presents a threat, and possible options for curbing that threat
How Do You Protect Your Trees?
The best way to avoid causing damage to your tree’s root system is to make sure you don’t do any kind of construction or land alteration too close to the tree’s trunk; the root system closest to the tree offers structural support as well as a bulk of the tree’s nutrients, and a hit there could be fatal. The ends of a root system, while still important, will have less of a drastic impact on the tree’s overall health
If you’re unsure how close is too close, give us a call for a consultation or contact another certified arborist. Also be sure to keep an eye out for signs of damage and decay in your trees, which can indicate root damage. Check out our article on what to look for!
Also, be sure to keep an eye out for our Tree of the Month articles; every month, we feature a tree that’s commonly found in Athens, or maybe a tree you might want to plant in your yard. We highlight the pros and cons of the tree, including how big it can get, so you’ll have a quantitative measure of how far the roots might spread.
And remember, no matter what you plant, what you build, or what you do, always account for the roots!
Emily Casuccio is sister and sister-in-law to Rebekah and Scott Rushing, and has over half a decade of experience in copywriting, copyediting, proofreading, and developmental storyboarding. She's worked with both published and undiscovered authors on both fiction and nonfiction, and takes pride in supporting local businesses. Her passion lies in the written word and helping authors of all capacities realize their dreams and achieve their fullest potential. To learn more about her, read samples of her work, or contact her, visit her online portfolio.
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