Two of the
biggest problems in the landscape today are planting too deep
and over mulching.
Tree roots breath, there is a gaseous exchange of elements
at the root system. Planting too deep or applying too much
mulch can cause several problems.
1. Suffocates roots and causes tree mortality often within
2. Roots will grow up for air further enhanced by moisture
in the “mulch volcano” producing a secondary root
system that encircles the main stem ultimately strangling
the plant. Very often it can take up to ten to twelve years
to actually strangle itself.
3. The tree trunk is a live part of the tree that breaths
as well, excessive soil or mulch against the trunk will slow
down or stop conduction of water and nutrients from the roots
to the leaves.
4. When roots come up into the “mulch volcano”
they are the first to be burnt by winter frost causing winter
kill and the first to be dried out during drought conditions
causing what we call the, double whammy!
1. Locate the root flare when planting. This is the transition
zone between the main stem and the root system, it should
be exposed. If your tree goes into the ground like a telephone
pole it is a sure sign there is a problem.
2. Pay close attention to the way that trees occur naturally
with a well defined root flare.
3. When plants are installed at the correct depth the roots
extend down first then horizontally with the fibrous roots
roughly at the drip edge of the tree. Roots go down first
naturally because the subsoil is cooler and damper in the
summer months and actually a bit warmer during the winter
4. Remove excessive mulch, a two inch layer is plenty. Periodically
remove mulch in plant beds before installing new mulch. If
you still have a doubt about planting depths or mulch we are
happy to help. We estimate that as many as 80% of plants installed
are either planted too deep or are being killed by excessive
5. Always remember, very often insects and disease problems
are secondary to poor health. More water and fertilizer will
not correct the problems caused by improper planting depth
or excessive mulch.
Finished product, compressor and truck.
Locating root flare with air spade,
excavating soil with compressed air.
This tree has produced a secondary
root system, a result of over mulching or planting too deep.
These roots will girdle and kill the tree over several years.
If this problem is diagnosed early
enough, girdling roots can be pruned away and the tree root
flare can be exposed again.
During the last step in our remedial
treatment we apply a root enhancing fertilizer at the drip edge
of the tree to encourage root growth away from the root flare.