Canopy Comments – Root Girdling

Written by Sharon Porter

November 22, 2014

Tree planting season is here and it is a good time to get excited about planting and caring for young trees! In order to ensure that trees live a long, healthy life, it is important to inspect the tree’s root system before you buy. When a young tree is raised in a container, the vigorous root system will demand more space as it grows. If a tree is not “bumped up” into a larger container size, the roots have nowhere to go, and are forced to grow in a circle within the container. The longer the roots grow in this fashion, the woodier they become, and the harder it will be to correct the problem when planting. These roots are described as “girdling”, because as the tree trunk increases in diameter, the roots will eventually girdle and “choke” the tree, instead of providing stabilization and other essential functions. Girdling roots can cause destabilization, stress, and eventually death. The November issue of Austin tribune has descriptions and photographs that will help select a tree with a healthy root system. For further reference, go to

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