The root system of a tree is extremely important to the overall health and longevity of the tree. They’re vital in bringing the tree the water and nutrients that it needs. Additionally, the roots of the tree are what anchor it to the ground, meaning that no matter the weather (even during storms and high winds), the likelihood of the tree falling is small. The root system of a tree also stores nutrients during the colder, winter months, determines the alignment of the tree, and fights off competition from other surrounding trees.
It’s safe to say that without a strong root system, the tree itself won’t grow to be strong and healthy. The good news is that there are things you can do to give your tree a strong root system. Here’s how.
Choose the Right Soil
Each species of tree has a specific type of soil that it thrives in. For instance, some may prefer soil that’s more acidic, whereas others like soil with a higher pH. Some need to be planted in clay whereas others need more loose soil. You get the idea. Therefore, your first step should be to figure out which type of soil your tree grows the best in and make sure you have it. Also, take note of whether your tree prefers soil that is well-draining or not and plant accordingly.
Once you know you have the correct soil, you must dig the proper-sized hole to plant the tree in. As the roots of a tree need to be underground, you don’t want to dig the hole too shallow. A good rule of thumb is to dig the hole to three times the size of the root ball. This will allow the new roots to grow easily in the loose soil.
Choose the Right Location
The location of the tree and the space you must give it to grow are important. This is because the spread of a tree’s roots will vary by type. You want to make sure that you have sufficient room for the roots to spread. If not, the roots of the tree won’t be sturdy, meaning that, in severe weather, the likelihood of your tree falling over increases. This can cause damage to your property, your neighbor’s property, or even worse, to a person.
Additionally, the roots of trees compete for the limited resources available. If the roots aren’t able to spread properly, the tree won’t receive the proper amount of water or nutrients that it needs to survive. It will then become unhealthy, and unhealthy trees also have a risk of falling or infecting surrounding trees and plants.
Be sure to also take note of how much sun the tree needs to thrive. For instance, if a tree needs full sun, you need to make sure that you’re planting it in an area of your yard that receives full sun.
Provide Oxygen for the Roots
The roots of a tree need proper oxygen to survive too. Making sure the roots have the oxygen they need prevents the soil from compacting. Compacted soil can actually kill a tree. The roots will receive the oxygen naturally, but there are things you can do to make sure this flow of oxygen to the roots isn’t hindered. This includes making sure the tree isn’t planted in a high-traffic zone, especially near a place where there’s a chance that a car or truck will continually drive over the roots.
Don’t Forget the Mulch
Mulch not only will make your yard more aesthetically pleasing, but it also plays a vital role in making sure the tree grows healthily. Mulch helps to hold in moisture, reduce soil erosion, control weeds, and regulate soil temperature. All these things will help to keep the roots of your tree stronger and healthier. Plus, mulch improves the structure of the soil and its nutrition through decomposition.
One important thing to note when using mulch is to avoid “mulch volcanoes.” This happens when you place mulch too close to the trunk of the tree. This will also block the oxygen to the roots, as mentioned above. It can also lead to root rot or even lead to pest infestation, so be sure to leave about three inches between the mulch and the tree trunk. Layering three to four inches of mulch is enough.
Fertilizer can be a great asset to the health of a tree. When it comes to roots specifically, microbial fertilizers are preferable. They work well to protect and promote the growth of the roots by controlling potential harmful pathogens and guarding against diseases and toxins that may be found in the soil. Biofertilizers also help to break down the nutrients from the soil so they can be more easily absorbed. They act in the same way as a forest floor would work, which is why a biofertilizer is preferred over one with chemicals.
If your tree happens to become infected, fertilizer is also essential in saving the tree, as it will help provide more nutrients to help the tree fight off the disease.
The root system has a critical impact on the life of the tree. The stronger the root system is, the stronger the tree itself will be. Because of this, it’s important to take particular care of your trees’ roots. There are ways you can do this yourself, and the above steps are a great place to start. Make sure you have the right soil to plant the tree in and the correct location that will allow a good flow of oxygen to the roots and the right amount of sunshine. Also, make sure that you have mulch and biofertilizer on hand to further help strengthen the roots when needed.
If you’re hesitant on any of the above or simply want to make sure the roots of your existing trees are at their strongest, give the arborists at Mr. Tree a call today. We’re happy to be of assistance and guidance.