Overgrown Roots Can Kill Trees

By Cindi Sullivan

(SEPTEMBER 4th, 2003) -- Overgrown tree roots can take a toll on your trees, but our garden expert Cindi Sullivan has some tips to minimize the damage from something called girdling roots.

Sometimes roots will begin to grow too close top the trunk of the tree or will cross over another root is such a way that the offending root literally strangles the plant. We call these girdling roots and early detection is important for proper control.

Robert Rollins is a certified arborist and knows why girdling roots occur and how to deal with them. "If you dig too small of a ball, and you cut the roots too close to the trunk, often they will sprout out sideways and start to go around the tree instead of radiating out they should."

Dealing with girdling tree roots is a fairly simple process. First, dig around the girdling root and expose the roots. That will let you determine where to make the cut.

Once the area is cleared of soil and the roots are exposed, it's time to cut. Start by getting the smaller roots out of the way. Be careful not to damage the trunk.

Trees will usually not die immediately from girdling roots, but will become progressively weaker over a period of years, so removing them is very important to a tree's health.

If you have a question for Cindi, you can email her at csullivan@wave3tv.com or use our Garden Talk Forum.