Advice on how to proceed w/girdling

Johtull

New Member
#1
This is a red maple in my front lawn, we bought the house a few years ago and I noticed roots above the ground and they have continued to get worse. Decided to excavate a bit to investigate further.
Tree must have been mulch been volcanoed in the past. Is it safe to cut the girdled roots? Not sure what to do, never seen this before. Can I remove all or some. The above ground roots are becoming an eye sore and mowing hazard. Thanks.
 

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Z'sTrees

Well-Known Member
#2
It may be too late but I'd cut em and see what happens. Sometimes just releasing the tension will allow the tree to form vascular tissues it otherwise wouldn't have been able to.
 

evo

Well-Known Member
#3
Good job, looks like you did all that by hand. To me it looks like it was planted too deep, and with a malformed root ball. I'd dig deeper, and get a good feel to see if there is a primary system deeper. Get a hose on it to wash off the dirt, a firm spray will show more detail. From there you can start small and go big with pruning doses, or start with the biggest and then go smaller. Just like the crown of a malformed tree, its often too much to do it all in one cycle or better to come back to it in a few years. When roots have a kink at the trunk and go off 90 degrees is less of a concern to me than roots which wrap 1/3, 2/3, or all the way around the trunk.. Pick your priorities...

As for the surface roots in your lawn, any tree will do that! It's all about the species and soil type. Kill the grass, and give the tree a mulch ring. IF you are unwilling to do that, remove the tree (I know it sounds brash, but if your unwilling to mulch properly and don't want to deal with surface roots your better off with a treeless lawn. You can always raise the lawnmower deck as well, but this will not benefit the tree (other than minimizing re-injury)
 

Tree_Frog

Active Member
#5
This is a red maple in my front lawn, we bought the house a few years ago and I noticed roots above the ground and they have continued to get worse. Decided to excavate a bit to investigate further.
Tree must have been mulch been volcanoed in the past. Is it safe to cut the girdled roots? Not sure what to do, never seen this before. Can I remove all or some. The above ground roots are becoming an eye sore and mowing hazard. Thanks.
IMG_4458.JPG

Cut these here. Do not cut main buttress root. Install mulch bed at least 4-5’ radius. Use compost or black cow in mulch bed not more than 1/2 thick. 3-4 inch deep, pine mini works well. Tree should push the roots free in a few years. Monitor for canopy dieback and adjust supplemental water if necessary. No fertilizer outside of compost for the 1st year. Enjoy.



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ATH

Well-Known Member
#7
Yes, don't cut the big one! You need to hose it to expose them and be sure of where to cut. I'd get the small ones off the trunk now, and do more in September.
The big one on the right... @Tree_Frog 's longest line? Don't ever cut it or just not now? I agree that is "too big" of a wound to make, but isn't the alternative a known entity of the tree being girdled? Not necessarily trying to argue it as we can't see the whole thing. Just curious to hear about the decision process between making a large wound vs. leaving a root pressuring the trunk.
 

Tree_Frog

Active Member
#8
Sorry. To clarify not to cut the big one on the bottom of the picture. The big one that I marked appears to be girdling that whole side. If this is the case then it has the potential of bring the tree down in the future. How is the upper canopy? I would not be surprised if it is a bit slow to leaf out on the right side. Hope this helps.


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Johtull

New Member
#9
View attachment 51853

Cut these here. Do not cut main buttress root. Install mulch bed at least 4-5’ radius. Use compost or black cow in mulch bed not more than 1/2 thick. 3-4 inch deep, pine mini works well. Tree should push the roots free in a few years. Monitor for canopy dieback and adjust supplemental water if necessary. No fertilizer outside of compost for the 1st year. Enjoy.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Thank you very much, the marked-up picture is great! Definitely will be doing a larger mulch ring area 4' for now maybe more next year.
 
#10
Sorry. To clarify not the big one on the bottom of the picture. The big one that I marked appears to be girdling that whole side. If this is the case then it has the potential of bring the tree down in the future. How is the upper canopy? I would not be surprised if it is a bit slow to lead out on the right side. Hope this helps.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
The big one on the right... @Tree_Frog 's longest line? Don't ever cut it or just not now? I agree that is "too big" of a wound to make, but isn't the alternative a known entity of the tree being girdled? Not necessarily trying to argue it as we can't see the whole thing. Just curious to hear about the decision process between making a large wound vs. leaving a root pressuring the trunk.
The first and second picture in my original post shows the entire area around the tree. The canopy looks great I'll attach a pic here.
 

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ATH

Well-Known Member
#12
I agree it can wait. Maybe even a year or two to let the tree recover from the other root pruning, but I'm thinking it has to go...but always open to other reasoning and would like to hear the "why" to go with it.
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
#13
Good job, looks like you did all that by hand. To me it looks like it was planted too deep, and with a malformed root ball. I'd dig deeper, and get a good feel to see if there is a primary system deeper. Get a hose on it to wash off the dirt, a firm spray will show more detail. From there you can start small and go big with pruning doses, or start with the biggest and then go smaller. Just like the crown of a malformed tree, its often too much to do it all in one cycle or better to come back to it in a few years. When roots have a kink at the trunk and go off 90 degrees is less of a concern to me than roots which wrap 1/3, 2/3, or all the way around the trunk.. Pick your priorities...

As for the surface roots in your lawn, any tree will do that! It's all about the species and soil type. Kill the grass, and give the tree a mulch ring. IF you are unwilling to do that, remove the tree (I know it sounds brash, but if your unwilling to mulch properly and don't want to deal with surface roots your better off with a treeless lawn. You can always raise the lawnmower deck as well, but this will not benefit the tree (other than minimizing re-injury)
I agree about the mulch.

Adding an inch or two of soil to grade over roots is much easier and better than removal.
 

Stephen Moore

Well-Known Member
#15
You have a few concerns here, the main thing is that the root mat serves to stabilize the tree as well as provide moisture and nutrients. The first question I would ask is, is this tree exposed to high winds... ever? The second is would the client be ok if this root hacking plan failed and either the tree died or fell on his or her home? The energy for bud break is stored there so the tree won’t like you much next spring.
 

JD3000

Well-Known Member
#16
Depends. Many times the girdling roots are above the primary buttress root system. That said, one doesn't have to remove them all in one season, hence the take it slow approach.
 

Stephen Moore

Well-Known Member
#17
I agree, but in most cases like this that I’ve dealt with, the lesser evil is to top dress or make a root well. In the end 9 times out of ten the tree is destroyed. Much the same as a poorly pruned ornamental that runs amok and then they want you to do surgical cuts 6 “ wide and expect it to callous? Hmm it’s really bad maintenance showing it’s ugly head. There’s a guy near the lake with a huge lawn surrounded in 140’ black cottonwoods, the roots are everywhere with army’s of suckers. I told him that anywhere the root feels the heat of the sun it will sucker. I also told him that large trees eat top soil for breakfast and no amount of dressing will satisfy them. If he wants a stately man lawn it will cost him and those trees dearly!
 

guymayor

Well-Known Member
#19
O and if anyone knows of an older reference, please post a link! And Stephen, after more experience you won't be so cautious or fearful. You prune branches all the time with little concern, right?
 

Stephen Moore

Well-Known Member
#20
Yes if done correctly it can work out for sure. After all, bonsai specialists do it all the time, year after year. But bear in mind it can be tree specific, and weather specific in the case of lateral buttress roots. Also I’ve seen many trees that construction contractors have brutally ripped off major roots and trees still carry on camping. But other times I end up getting a call, just as many of you do.
 
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