Girdled Tree Roots: Causes, Signs, Solution, and Prevention

By: Shelby McCullough| Published: June 27, 2022

With so many tree killers out there, you don’t typically consider that a tree could endanger itself. However, aside from parasites and illnesses, a tree can kill itself through its root system.

As Lake Mary’s trusted tree service company, we know the dangers that girdled tree roots have to the tree. Here, we will tell you the causes, the signs, and the ways to prevent or stop girdled tree roots.

What Are Girdled Tree Roots?

girdled tree roots

Girdling means the tree’s roots curl around each other and the tree trunk. The circling roots endanger the tree by squeezing and suffocating each other in addition to the main body. The squeezing prevents water and other nutrients from reaching the necessary cells, which causes the tree to die slowly.

Girdling occurs most often from improper spacing for the root flare. The roots anchoring the tree into the ground may grow above the soil surface and improperly curl around its trunk when the planted trees are too crowded. The same happens for trees that stay too long in a pot that is too small to grow in.

The Signs of Girdling Roots

There are several ways to tell if a tree has girdled roots. For example, the tree trunk will not flare out properly where you should see the roots spreading into the ground. Instead, it will appear to shoot straight into the ground, or in some cases, it may even become narrower.

Another easy way to spot girdled tree roots is if they curl around each other above the soil surface. They may also start wrapping around the tree trunk before they harden. For less noticeable signs, look for trees whose leaves fall too early or whose canopy is retracting inwards and becoming smaller.

How To Stop Tree Root Girdling

The best way to prevent young trees from girdling is by repotting growing trees to ensure they always have enough space for their roots to flare. You should also plant young trees at a reasonable distance apart from each other and loosen the soil around the roots so they can anchor into the new ground.

Make sure that you dig the right-sized hole for your tree as well. Digging it too large can cause too much soil to pile on the root flare, straining the roots. On the other hand, a hole that is too small will not allow the roots room to grow, just like in a pot.

To correct girdling in older trees, you may need an expert hand to ensure there is little to no damage to the tree stem. Removing girdled tree roots from an older tree also requires a lot of heavy machinery and dedicated time and energy. However, if the damage is too extensive, you may need to remove the tree before it collapses.

In addition to dealing with girdled tree roots, you can learn more about soil aeration by calling McCullough Tree Service for expert services in Lake Mary, FL, and surrounding cities. Our team of certified arborists is dedicated to maintaining the health and beauty of your trees, ensuring your landscape remains safe and attractive. Trust us to bring top-notch tree care solutions to your doorstep. Call us today at (407) 734-5854!

Shelby McCullough

About The Author: Shelby McCullough

With over two decades of experience in the tree industry, Shelby McCullough is a highly skilled certified arborist and the proprietor of McCullough Tree Service. His unparalleled expertise and profound understanding of trees set him apart in his field.