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Tree Root Management

In our Urban Forestry, a tree’s root system is the first place we should look when we see an issue with our trees. Unlike what we see from above the ground, a trees roots are hidden under ground and not visible. The root system is many times where the issue lies if there are troubles with a tree.

One of the most common and top issues with our root systems in Chicago IL  area is compacted soils. With so much urban development, houses, equipment, and people, we have further compacted an already naturally clay like soil in our area. Dont fret, there are some things we can do to help our trees roots find a better life!

Vertical Mulching

In my opinion, this aspect of tree care is often overlooked. It is not a common practice in our field today, and should be. One of the very best things you can do for you trees is loosen up compacted soil. Roots have a very difficult time finding what the tree needs when they are stuck. The process of Vertical Mulching actually created vertical pockets in the soil to help roots find their way to better conditions – looser soil.

Whats needed

  • A mix of soil amendments is mixed together with top soil and ready for installation
  • A three to four inch drill & bit able to drill 12-15 inches deep
  • Wheel Barrel, Shovel, Drill or Auger, Top Soil w/ amendments

The Simple Process

  • Using the drill, holes are drilled into the existing soil at a depth of approximately 12-15 inches within the dripline of a tree
  • Top Soil with amendments is shoveled into the drill holes
  • You are Done, yup its that easy! and Very Effective for the root system

Vertical Mulching is one of the best things you can do for the health and longevity of your trees. Upon completion, the newly drilled holes filled with good rich soil amendment creates a place for the roots to go for much needed oxygen, water, nutrients, etc. Compacted soil is a main issue with our urban forest, and vertical mulching is a cost effective, simple process that helps our root systems greatly.

Other Methods of Root Management

Root Collar Excavation

Girdling roots can kill a tree. If young enough, a girdling root can be cut to help prolong the life of a tree. Some tree companies perform major root excavation with aerial spades that expose a large portion of the root system of a tree. Better yet, minor root collar excavations can be performed on young trees to cut girdling roots.


Mostly done by landscape companies to help grass roots, aerating soils can also help trees and shrubs in your landscape.


Installing mulch around a tree root system primarily benefits include keeping away lawn mower damage, and retaining moisture in the soil for water retension. Surface roots should be mulched especially to keep mowers and other equipment away from damaging them.

Deep Root Fertilizing

see Tree Fertilizing

Root Pruning

See Tree Preservation

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TREE ROOT MANAGEMENT 5.00/5 (100.00%) 20 votes