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Be Aware of Root Flare to Grow Healthier Trees

Root Flare
Did you know that your tree's roots need to seriously flare out to grow tall and healthy? Especially in the case of the oaks, pecans, and ornamental trees beloved by people in Dallas. This guide explains some of the things you should know about this important feature of healthy trees.

Tree Trunks Should Flare Out At Ground Level
At the bottom of a healthy tree's trunk, slightly above the soil level, is the shoulder or root flare of the tree. This is where the trunk transitions from rough protective bark to smooth roots.

Typically, a tree will send out 6 to 10 anchor roots that are visible above the ground. The bigger anchor roots are raised several inches off the ground and slope down to underground roots. Because the roots are exposed to the air, the larger anchor roots grow bark to protect the delicate tissue of the roots.

If your tree doesn't have any root flare but resembles a telephone pole jutting straight out of the ground, then you may have a problem. When a tree has no root flare, it's a sure sign that the tree was planted too deeply. In some cases, a lack of root flare is the result of sediment deposits from development, flooding, or improper landscaping techniques.

Soil and Root Flare Don't Mix
When you plant a tree too deeply or dump soil on top of a tree's root flare, you cause several problems. One of the worst issues is suffocation of the tree over time. Heavy soil reduces the number and effectiveness of the roots that are responsible for the tree's respiration.

Feeder roots may begin to wrap around the trunk of the tree. Some experts believe this girdles an affected tree and chokes off nutrients and water, causing the tree to die.

Wet soil and bark are not made to be exposed to each other. Tree bark is a great protective covering, but it can break down or be contaminated by pests and fungi when exposed to wet, compacted soil for long periods.

The smooth surface of roots can develop into tree bark when exposed to air. However, tree bark can't morph back into a smooth root surface to hold up under the soil. When soil builds up over the bark-covered root flare, the bark will eventually decompose the anchor roots and reduce the stability of the entire tree.

Root Flare Issues Can Be Solved
If your trees have healthy root flares, then you can keep them that way by following good landscaping practices. Be careful when mowing, pruning, or working around your trees to protect anchor roots from being cut, crushed, or wounded. Other root flare tips include:

  • Don't place flower beds over root flares
  • Don't plant shrubbery over root flares
  • Don't place mulch on root flares
  • Don't add paving or compaction near root flares
Your tree service can sometimes safely uncover the root flare in trees that have had the roots buried under too much soil. This is a delicate process since the roots must remain intact as the soil is dug and scraped away. In some cases, a tree may be saved by moving it to a new or improved location.

Young trees are easier to reposition in the soil if their root flares are inadvertently covered. Your tree service has tools and equipment to remove, reposition, and replace trees for optimum root flare care.

Contact our team at Holcomb Tree Service to schedule an inspection of your trees' root flare health. Our certified arborists can diagnose the problems and help you find solutions to treat or replace your trees. Give us a call to learn more.
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