What Tree Root Girdling Means: Effects on Trees

All homeowners want to enjoy beautiful, healthy, and lush trees. However, the trees are only as healthy as their root system. So, if something’s wrong with the roots, it will negatively affect your tree’s health and appeal.

Tree root girdling is a common condition that might impact a tree’s root system. When locals deal with tree diseases and disorders, they turn to our tree service experts in Palm Harbor for help. We have the skills, tools, and experience to deal with minor and major tree problems.

Keep reading to learn what girdling roots are, whether or not they are dangerous, and how to prevent them from invading your plants.

What Causes Tree Root Girdling?

Girdling roots can’t happen all of a sudden. In urban environments, several factors affect trees that trees in nature don’t have to confront. These factors may cause several issues, including tree root girdling.

One of the most common causes for this issue is improper planting. When trees stay in the container for too long, the roots can circle the pot’s bottom and add pressure to the tree. Also, when you plant a tree in a hole too small in diameter, the same problem can happen – the roots start circling around and soon grow into girdling roots.

Other possible causes include close proximity to foundations or pipes and heavily compacted soil.

How to Notice Girdling Roots

The good thing is that you can easily spot girdling roots. The first sign of a girdling root is an atypical tree trunk flare.

Usually, a trunk flares out where it meets the ground. However, the trunk may appear narrower or straight if the tree has girdling roots.

Another sign is the soil line. If the roots circle above the line of the soil surface, it means something’s wrong. In some cases, girdling roots lie below the surface.

Tree Root Girdling Effects: What to Expect

Tree root girdling causes two issues – a tree that might fall over for no apparent reasons, and an unhealthy-looking tree. Because they can’t absorb enough nutrients to ensure healthy growth, girdled trees fail to develop, lose their leaves, and die. Understanding the reasons why trees fall, such as root issues, is crucial for effective tree care and maintenance.

Girdling roots also prevent plants from anchoring themselves securely in the soil, making it a potential hazard. Due to weather changes, an insecure tree might fall over the property and cause significant structural damage. If the tree is within a specific range of people, vehicles, or property, it is a safety hazard, and you might be responsible for any injury or damage it causes.

A tree that doesn’t absorb necessary nutrients is also susceptible to diseases and pests. In addition, the tree struggles to move oxygen and water in and out of the bark, causing improper growth. If you have more trees in your backyard or nearby flowers and plants, the disease may spread to them, causing an unsightly look.

How to Treat or Prevent Girdling Roots

One of the best ways to prevent girdling roots is to dig a correct size hole. While some homeowners think “the deeper the hole, the better,” it is a common misconception. Instead, the hole should be two times as wide as the root ball and no deeper than it.

Ideally, there shouldn’t be soil above the root flare. If the roots circle the base of the root ball, break them up before planting the tree to ensure proper root development.

Girdling roots removal is possible, but it requires consultation with a tree expert to avoid stem damage.

Get Expert Advice from Stevens Tree Service

For more information on tree root girdling or safe tree removal, you can depend on Stevens Tree Service. We are experts at protecting trees during the winter, trimming, pruning, and stump grinding.

Contact us today at 727-734-8733 to schedule an appointment.


Stevens Tree Service is the Tampa Bay Area’s #1 choice for residential and commercial tree care services. Our family owned and operated business, is all about you, our customer and what’s best for your trees.


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1334 Spalding Rd.
Dunedin, FL 34698

Phone : 727-734-TREE (8733)

Email : stevenstree@knology.net


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