Signs Your Tree Needs a Root Excavation

Signs Your Tree Needs a Root Excavation

Mature trees can tower to great heights, but they need a sturdy and healthy foundation to thrive. Good tree health starts at the root collar. The root collar is a relatively small part of your tree, but it is a crucial zone that needs to be properly cared for. Don’t miss the signs your tree needs a root excavation! If the root crown becomes obstructed, it can choke out the tree and cause the whole thing to come tumbling down. The tree care experts at Monster Tree Service are here to help you recognize when your tree needs a root excavation. We explain the root collar’s function, root excavation process, and signs your tree needs this Plant Health Care service.


What is a Tree Root Collar?

While the root collar is a small part of the overall tree, it’s a vital component. The tree root collar is where the tree’s roots meet the trunk or where the below-ground parts meet the above-ground parts. The root collar is also called the root crown, and its placement on the soil line is crucial for your tree’s health. The root collar must sit above the soil line so the phloem cells in the inner bark can freely exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen to and from the tree. If soil or debris obstructs the root collar, the tree can be deprived of nutrients, like oxygen and water, and become susceptible to diseases or infestations.


Here’s what can happen when a tree’s root collar becomes buried under soil and debris.

  • Collar rot will develop below the soil line, and fungus will affect the trunk and prevent nutrients from traveling through the tree.

  • Girdling roots will grow below the soil line, twisting around the trunk base and cutting off water supplies and nutrients to the tree.

  • Fibrous roots will form above the root crown and steal needed water from the primary root system.

  • Nutrient depletion and dehydration will leave the tree susceptible to other diseases.

  • Deadwood will develop on the tree, leading to falling branch safety hazards.

  • Tree death or collapse will eventually occur, creating a potential threat to your home and property.


What is Root Collar Excavation?

Root collar excavation is a Plant Health Care service that removes soil or debris build-up along the root crown to reestablish proper placement on the soil line. The root collar excavation process may look different depending on the debris obstruction. For example, it could be as simple as removing a layer of compacted soil and leaves and aerating the soil around the roots. If there are girdling or fibrous roots, an arborist may need to prune, remove, or reposition them to prevent damage to the tree.


How Do I Know if My Tree Needs Root Collar Excavation?

Rising soil levels and over-mulching can all lead to your tree needing a root collar excavation. But, how do you know when it’s time to call in a professional to start the tree root excavation process? Here are some signs to look out for.

  • Determine where the base of your tree is in relation to the soil line. Trees should have a flare from the tree base going into the ground. If the soil looks higher than the tree base, your tree may need a root excavation.

  • Monitor debris collection around your tree from over-mulching, or other sources. They've piled up too high if you can’t see the tree base.

  • Feel the soil around the base of your tree. If it feels too compacted, it may be restricting the nutrients your tree needs.

  • Encroaching infrastructure, like gravel or paver walkways, could interfere with your tree’s roots. Check to see if your tree is becoming too large for the space.

  • Look for roots growing above the soil line or tangling around the tree's base. These may be a sign of girdling or fibrous roots.

  • If your tree’s health starts to decline and it seems like watering doesn’t help, it could be a sign that it’s being choked by roots or debris.


Figuring out if your tree needs a root collar excavation starts with a professional tree inspection. An arborist has the tools and experience necessary to determine the root cause of your tree’s underlying health problems and can plan the next steps to take.


Let Your Trees Breathe!

As you can see, a buried root collar can cut off necessary nutrients, such as water and oxygen, and choke your tree. The Monster Tree Service team is here to help you (and your trees) breathe a sigh of relief! Our Plant Health Care services, including root collar excavation, come with free, no-obligation estimates with upfront pricing and no hidden fees. Contact your local Monster Tree Service location today to get started.