Okay, first things first – what exactly are girdled roots? Well, put very simply – girdled roots are just those roots of a plant (which in this case is a tree) that grow either on or just below the surface of the ground. The thing that is very different about girdled roots is that they grow laterally (or horizontally) on the soil as compared to digging under it like the other roots of the tree. Also, girdled roots usually cut the main trunk of the tree from at least one side.
How and why girdled roots are bad for trees
Girdled roots weaken the tree by a significant amount. This is because girdled roots are out in the open. Being exposed in the air like this makes these roots more likely to get infected by diseases, infested by pest or just simply blown away in the wind. And, because these roots are also girdled around the bark of the tree, the disease or the infestation spreads to the rest of the tree faster as well.
Why do girdled roots develop?
Girdled roots develop when a tree is not planted correctly. For example, when the root collars of the tree are buried under the soil when it is being planted – the tree will develop girdled roots. Another example of incorrect planting is when a tree is bought and brought from a nursery; the tree’s roots are bound to the pot it is in – circling around it. So, when these trees are planted as such – they develop girdled roots because the roots grow to circle around the trunk now.
How to prevent girdled roots?
There are some tree care tips you can follow to reduce the formation of girdled roots around your trees:
- When you buy a tree from a nursery, break the roots that are tied to the pot that the tree came in before planting it in the soil
- Make sure that the planting hole is dug wide enough to allow for space so that the roots of the tree can grow easily under the ground
- Take care that the soil is not compacted too tight or otherwise clayey
- Water the tree well after planting it
- And, mulch the soil properly
Removing girdled roots after they have already developed
If you ever notice girdled roots around your trees – either remove them yourself if you can or call a tree service company; otherwise the health of your tree might be at risk. If you are doing the job yourself – you should be extra careful about your safety because you would probably be working with something like a saw to cut off the roots. If you decide to hire a professional tree service, consult services on Google and be sure to check the reviews.