A sturdy foundation starts underground with the roots. But what happens when this important water and nutrient delivery system is interrupted?
Girdling roots, which grow around another root or trunk, create pressure and “choke” or compress water and nutrient conductive tissues. Sometimes container-grown trees, sidewalks or curbs initiate this condition. Girdling roots can be found on many tree species, but maples and lindens seem most susceptible.
The Domino Effect
Girdling roots can negatively impact trees, possibly resulting in decline or risk tree situations. Diseases and pests are more likely to attack trees with girdling roots. If you suspect your tree has this condition, look for:
- Reduced canopy growth or thin crown
- Early fall coloration or early defoliation, often on one side
- Flattened appearance at trunk base or lack of trunk flare
- Roots circling the trunk at, or just below, ground level
Weigh Your Options
Deciding whether to remove girdling roots depends on many factors. They can supply a significant part of the tree with nutrients and water or even stabilize its structure.