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Root Flare Exposure Explained: Why is it important?

It might be hard to believe looking around your neighborhood, but did you know trees shouldn’t look like telephone poles coming out of the ground?  The practice of burying root flares of trees has become an epidemic of tree malpractice in urban landscaping.   

The all-important root flare of a tree is the foot or anchor of the tree.  It should be exposed so that the tapered part of the trunk that meets the ground is visible and exposed to air.  The root flare is composed of all the buttress roots of the tree.  When a tree looks like a telephone pole coming out of the ground, the buttress roots of the root flare are buried which invites several serious problems to develop over time.    

Stress factors created by a buried root flare:  

Fungal wood decay:  

Mounding mulch or soil at the base of a tree invites the development of fungal wood decay from the constant moisture held on the bark of the buttress roots.  Fungal wood decay can compromise the vascular system while also slowly compromising the structural stability of the tree.   

Girdling roots:  

The constant moisture held on the bark from the mounding of soil or mulch at the base of the tree causes dormant buds to emerge from the bark of the buttress roots.  These roots are irregular and do not belong there.  As they emerge, girdling roots will grow parallel to the trunk and grow over the buttress roots of the tree.  These girdling roots start out as small fibrous roots but quickly grown in length and girth.  Girdling roots become restrictive in nature, choking on the vascular system of the tree while also causing severe abrasion on top of the buttress roots which can lead to fungal wood decay.  These roots can also graft into the buttress roots over time.  Best to remediate this issue before grafting between the buttress roots and girdling roots occurs.  

Trees should not look like telephone poles coming out of the ground! The landscaping cultural practice of burying root flares of trees has become a major issue in urban landscapes across the country.

Trees should not look like telephone poles coming out of the ground!

The landscaping cultural practice of burying root flares of trees has become a major issue in urban landscapes across the country.

Excavating the soil exposes a web of irregular and damaging girdling roots.  

These roots must be pruned and removed or they will continue to grow in girth which can restrict the vascular system of the tree – like a rubber band around your finger.  

After the Root Flare Exposure treatment:

The base of the tree is clean of damaging girded roots and can now grow unharmed from girdling roots and fungal wood decay. 

Have questions? Contact our expert team!

Southern Botanical understands just what your shrubs, trees, and turf need, regardless of the season. Contact us today – we’d love to hear from you!