After last month’s storm led to major power outages throughout Shelby and Desoto counties, I was astonished at the number of trees that were blown over due to high winds. It was amazing to see so many huge oak trees knocked to the ground as if they were kicked over by giants. Have you taken the time to look at the root systems of these fallen trees? Did you notice anything? The common factor of the fallen trees is that they do not have a taproot system!
Healthy trees have extensive root systems. Many of our tree root systems only penetrate the top 18 inches of the soil, which is considered shallow. In some cases, more than 50 percent of our local tree’s roots are in the top six inches of the soil. Better growing conditions for the trees are located in the upper profile of the soil. Nutrients and moisture are readily available near this area. Tree roots not only grow horizontally they extend two to three times beyond the dripline of the tree.
Here in Shelby County we have a lot of clay. Soils that are high in clay have less extensive roots than soil that drains well or is sandy.
In the past, we addressed volcano mulching. Trees growing in mulch will have more roots closer to the surface than those growing in fertile, moist and aerated soils.
Simply stated, healthy trees will have expanding root systems that are healthy. If possible, avoid practices that will inhibit or damage the growth of a tree’s root system. This damage includes soil compaction, trenching within tree root zones and volcano mulching. Roots are there to anchor the tree, provide uptake of water and nutrients and provide storage for food reserves. Let us do all we can to encourage healthy roots for our trees!
Until next time, happy gardening!