How Root Flare Exposure Affects Tree Health

One of the biggest overlooked tree care mistakes is a relatively simple one: your tree was planted too deep. If a tree seems to be declining despite efforts to regularly prune it, trim its branches, and give it adequate water, it might be time to take a look at the root cause of the issue (pun intended). In addition to regularly scheduling maintenance with your local Berkeley tree service experts, get acquainted with how a buried root flare could be suffocating your tree – and how to fix it.  

What is root flare and how can Berkeley tree services help?

The root flare of a tree is the area around the base of the trunk, where the trunk meets the roots and creates a sloping outward flare into the soil. A tree’s root flare is a powerful indicator of its health, and a damaged or improperly developed root flare can cause a number of detrimental effects for fledgling and established trees. A certified arborist will be able to identify an underexposed root flare and provide recommendations or services to fix it. 

Signs that your tree’s root flare is suffocating:

If you can’t see a tree’s root flare, soil or mulch is likely covering it (which it should not be). Indicators that the tree is suffering due to its improperly exposed root flare are: 

  • Prematurely dropping leaves in the fall or delayed leaf growth in spring 
  • New shoots have a narrow reach, which gives the appearance that the foliage is hugging close to the branches
  • The tree appears like a telephone pole sticking out of the ground: completely cylindrical with no visible flare. Though this is natural for some varieties of tree, most should slope outwards as the trunk meets the roots and enters the soil. 

Health Consequences of a Buried Root Flare 

Soil or mulch covering a tree’s root flare comes with immediate and long-term consequences. Immediately, the tree experiences reduced oxygen availability to its roots, reduced water infiltration, and reduced access to shallow nutrient pools. If chronically underexposed, buried root flare could cause: 

  • Fungal wood decay. When mulch or soil is mounded over the base of the tree, moisture can accumulate over the tree’s root flare and deprive it of crucial oxygen. Over time, this can cause fungal wood decay at the root flare, which weakens the structural integrity of the tree while compromising the vascular system.
  • Girdling roots. The excess moisture at the root flare causes dormant buds to emerge from the base of the tree. Although these girdling roots start out small, they quickly grow into a restrictive tangle that abrades the buttress roots and suffocates the vascular system. These unnatural roots are a direct result of covering the tree’s root flare. 

Talk to Us

If you are looking for the best Berkeley tree service, look no further. At Sexy Trees, our wide range of services and care will keep your trees healthy and beautiful for decades to come. We believe in supporting our communities of trees through evidence-based techniques that you can depend on. Give us a call at 925-233-6877 for a free estimate, or email us at [email protected] anytime with questions!