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Digging out root flares exposes roots. What to do?

Posted by jowall Z6 Nashville TN (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 15:20

So I discovered that most of my trees (red maple, sycamores, sweet gums, lacebark elms) had been planted too deep. They were planted above soil level but the mounding of the dirt around them had put some of the root flares as much as 4 or 5 inches under soil.

So I've been working (as delicately as I can) to dig them out and level the soil around them. So far so good but as I'm doing it I'm exposing tons of little roots. What do I do? Do I just leave them exposed?

Also I've uncovered some roots that will become stem girdling in a few years. I want to cut those out. Is this a good time of year to do this? The red maple is starting to bud out.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Digging out root flares exposes roots. What to do?

Definitely remove the exposed roots, and, if it's practical to do so, leave the fresh cuts exposed for a little while. If you cover them with dirt, there is a little bit more chance of pathogens entering through those cuts.

This is a spectacular time to prune the roots that need to be pruned. Doing it now will minimize the time it takes the tree to seal back over the cuts.

I can't tell much from the picture, especially since it is appearing upside down. I tried looking at it by turning my head as much as I could without suspending myself from the ceiling, but that didn't really help. From your written descriptions though, it sounds like you are right on track.

RE: Digging out root flares exposes roots. What to do?

I agree with brandon. Do what you need to do, and don't look back. It is better to make these changes now than later. Just keep a watch on them over the summer. You may need to increase water at some point.


RE: Digging out root flares exposes roots. What to do?

Green side up!

You won't hurt that red maple at all. This species grows annual feeder roots like this into mulch layers as a matter of course.

Prune off, mulch, and go on. Your trees thank you.

RE: Digging out root flares exposes roots. What to do?

To make the photo appear right side up, just double click on it.

Those are adventitious roots that can be safely cut away at any time. You need to expose the flare and the first structural roots. Those adventitious roots only grew because the tree ended up with too much soil piled up around the trunk, unfortunately a common phenomenon with woody plants coming from many of even the most highly regarded growers. It is not uncommon for me to have to excavate 2-3" away from a tree when I plant it. A hori hori knife is a girl's best friend.

RE: Digging out root flares exposes roots. What to do?

Double clicking is so much easier than suspending oneself upside down for the ceiling!

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