Trees that have been planted too deeply are, unfortunately, a very common problem in the urban landscape. How can you tell if your tree is planted too deeply?
Where’s the Root Flare?
Trees aren’t supposed to look like telephone poles sticking out of the ground. They are supposed to have a taper or “flare” at the bottom. The flare helps anchor and stabilize the tree.
Root flares are different from roots. Roots are made to be underground in a dark and moist environment to collect water and nutrients for the tree. Tree trunks are not. The bark tissue on trunks is designed to be exposed to the air and can often rot if buried for an extended period.
The root flare is that area of transition at the base of a tree where the trunk flares out and the buttress begin. This area, including the tops of the buttress roots, should be exposed to the air and never covered with mulch or soil.
“The root flare, including the tops of the buttress roots, should be exposed to the air and never covered with mulch or soil.”Scott Geer, ISA Board Certified Master Arborist
What can be done to correct improper planting practices?
Expose that flare! This can often be done by gently digging around the base of the tree with your hand until you see a taper. Prune off any small adventitious roots or girdling roots with hand pruners or a wood chisel.
If your tree is planted too deeply or the project is more than you want to deal with, please call Tree Shepherds. One of our Plant Health Care arborists will expose the flare with an AirSpade for a very gentle, nondestructive approach. They will also prune any girdling roots, enabling your tree to thrive.