While we need trees within our city of Houston, TX to provide shade, clean the air, and offer a home for wildlife, preventing tree roots from interfering with infrastructure is a continuous issue. Active tree root management is now a critical part of best practices in tree planting. It’s no longer acceptable to plant a tree and hope the roots will keep out of trouble. In order for a new tree to grow healthy and thrive, its roots must have access to oxygen and water. Root systems are vital to the health and longevity of trees. Most roots flourish near the soil surface and the majority of a large tree’s roots are in the upper 18″-24″ of soil. Roots can spread two to three times further than tree branches when given the space. Tree roots are often associated with situations that cause damage to pavements and structure; however, in a lot of cases roots are not to blame. Here are some ways you can manage tree roots:

  • Reduce Soil Compaction: Soil compaction occurs when there’s a lot of foot or machinery traffic near the tree. Compacted soil forces large roots to grow close to the soil’s surface and, if in an urban landscape, can eventually lift the pavement. When roots meet a paved area, the only accessible area is often a gap between the soil and pavement. Future problems can be prevented at the time of planting by using smaller trees or plants, or using barriers to prevent roots from growing under the pavement. However, be sure not to cut off the roots because this often causes stress and instability within the tree.
  • Remove Tree: If tree roots are causing a problem in your home, and are becoming costly, it might be time to remove the tree all together. Tree removal will prevent the roots from growing, and the stump of the tree should be grounded to prevent the continued growth of the roots.
  • Install Root Barriers: Root barriers are used to guide tree roots away from pavement or buildings to prevent them from damage. Barriers come in all shapes and sizes, and can be installed to various depths depending on the tree and its surroundings. Root barriers work best when they are installed before the tree is fully established, but they can also be installed around mature or existing trees. Overall, root barriers are beneficial for your trees because they protect the roots and help improve the tree’s stability.
  • Irrigate your trees: Proper irrigation will prevent the malformation of roots. As new roots become established, they’re in a vulnerable state in the development cycle. You should water trees according to their needs, so check the soil frequently for moisture content. Use drip irrigation to deliver water slowly and gradually to the tree and stop when the root zone is moist, not soggy or dry. This will help the roots grow normally and prevent any future damage to infrastructure.
  • Deep root fertilization: Deep root fertilization is the process of injecting fertilizer into the root zone to help aerate and provide much needed oxygen to the root system. This helps improve the conditions in and around the root zone, which can improve the overall health of the tree. By giving the tree roots the oxygen and nutrient levels they need – there will be improved environmental conditions in and around the root zone.

Tree root management should be an important part of tree care maintenance in the Houston area. Perhaps, the best way to manage tree roots is prevention and proper tree selection and location. We can send our arborist to your location to discuss tree root management options and what would work best for you. Give us a call today!