If it looks like roots are strangling your tree, should you be worried? Should you cut down the tree and get tree stump removal services? This a question we get asked a lot at Martin’s Tree Service. It is common to see tree roots stretch themselves far and wide into our landscapes, but many don’t expect to see roots that have wrapped themselves around the tree trunk.
When the roots encircle a tree’s trunk, it is called girdling. It is often described as looking like the roots are strangling the tree. In fact, that is exactly what they are doing. Girdling essentially strangles the tree by suffocating them and cutting off the flow of food and water. Continue on to learn more about tree girdling and what to do if your tree shows signs.
What Causes Girdling?
Tree roots that wrap fully or partially around a tree’s trunk can happen above ground, meaning the encircled roots are visible. However, it can also happen just below the soil surface, where you are unable to see the issue.
Usually, tree girdling roots are caused by improper planting. This could mean that the tree was planted in a hole that is too small, preventing the roots from spreading out. It could also mean that the hole was too deep, which forces the roots to grow up toward the surface in search of air and water. Planting a container plant without loosening up its circling roots can also cause girdling.
Some actions after planting can also cause girdling. Most commonly, packing too much mulch up against a tree trunk can lead to girdling roots.
If the girdled roots are above-ground, they are easy to identify. Since girdling can also happen just below the soil surface, you may have to be on the lookout for other clues.
Since girdling roots prevent nutrients from being transported down to the tree roots, and water from moving up to the tree leaves it can cause health problems for the tree. The deprivation of water and nutrients can show up in a few common ways. Look out for thinning canopies, leaves changing colours, and dead, leafless branches. Also, if one side of the trunk looks like it is going straight into the ground like a pole with no natural curve, there may be roots wrapped around it just under the surface.
Girdling root removal requires digging up the soil from around the roots and removing it with a tool such as a chisel or saw. Deciding on whether you should remove the roots depends on many factors. A tree can have a complicated relationship with girdling roots. Although they are hurting the tree, they could be supplying it with water and nutrients that help stabilize its structure. Always contact a certified arborist for help with cutting girdling tree roots so they can advise you towards the best course of action.
Any tree can suffer from girdling roots, but maple and linden trees have been found to be the most susceptible. Depending on how long your tree has been suffering from girdling roots, it may need to be removed if it cannot be saved. At Martin’s Tree Service, we offer affordable tree removal and tree stump removal. Contact us today to speak with one of our team members who can assist you with girdling tree roots.