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Girdling Roots


You may have heard us talk about girdling roots before, and if you have, you know that it is one of the more silent killers of trees and shrubs in the urban environment. Girdling roots are tree and shrub roots that have begun to wrap around the base of the plant, essentially cutting the plant off from water and nutrients needed to survive. It’s almost as if they’re suffocating! After a long period of time, this can kill the plant.

Many times, you may not know that a tree even has girdling roots. Here are some instances where you may need to make sure your plant’s base is clear:

  1. If you use mulch – It’s possible for girdling roots to be hidden underneath mulch that is packed around the base of the tree. We recommend laying mulch a small 2-3 inch layer spread all the way to the drip line of the tree evenly instead of piling it up onto the trunk; this ensures a breathable buffer for the plant that will hold in nutrients more effectively.

  2. If the tree or shrub has been planted with the root packaging (like burlap) still on, or if it has been planted in a plot that is too small. In both cases, the roots of the plant are “trapped”; there’s nowhere for them to expand or stretch out. Without anywhere else to go, they’ll extend upward and can begin to twist around the trunk.

  3. Is there plastic wrapping at the base of the tree? There are instances when plastic wrapping is placed around the trunk for weed prevention. Though it may help in keeping the weeds away, it also prevents air and water from moving back and forth between the soil, essentially “sterilizing” it.

Don’t let your trees and shrubs suffer! Have your trees and shrubs inspected by one of our tree service professionals to make sure that your plants are healthy and getting all the nutrients they need to thrive. You can also contact us for landscape mulch delivery. Schedule an appointment today!

Girdling Roots

Make sure your plant’s base is clear.

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