American Tree Experts

A Comprehensive Guide To Pruning Tree Roots

Why pruning tree roots matters – Exploring benefits and techniques

Roots are a critical part of a tree that maintains its health and stability. While sometimes roots need pruning, incorrect techniques can lead to the death or toppling of a tree. Therefore, root pruning should not be attempted without proper experience and knowledge. Read this guide to pruning tree roots to make well-informed decisions.

Factors To Consider Before Pruning Tree Roots

Here are some of the important factors to consider before you opt for root pruning:

Tree’s Age

  • The tree’s age determines how it responds to root pruning. While a young tree responds to root pruning much better, older, mature trees are susceptible to damage. Since young trees have smaller root diameters, small cuts are required. This means the tree does not have to work as hard to heal the cuts. On the other hand, pruning large roots in older trees can affect the tree’s stability, and any wrong cuts can result in the tree toppling over during windstorms.

Number Of Roots That Need Pruning

  • When it comes to root pruning, the fewer roots you prune, the safer it is for the tree. Pruning excessive roots can affect how the tree receives its water and nutrient supply and may affect its stability.

Tree’s Health

  • A sick or stressed tree will not respond to root pruning like a healthy tree. Therefore, it is essential to conduct a health assessment test of the tree before pruning its roots. While a healthy tree can divert nutrients wherever needed, a sick tree does not have enough resources to begin the healing process. Thus, pruning the roots of a sick tree can result in its deterioration and death.

Tree Species

  • The way a tree may respond to pruning depends on its species. For instance, some species can tolerate heavy root pruning without problems, while others may suffer even from minimal root pruning. Since different trees have different root architectures, their stability varies. A tree with a sinker root system can tolerate the pruning of roots close to the trunk, as this root system consists of a broad plate of lateral roots.

Vertical roots that grow deep underground develop from these lateral roots, creating a root cage that holds much soil. Therefore, significant force is required to move a tree with a sinker root system. So, these trees tolerate root pruning near the trunk. Additionally, many young trees initially have a sinker root system, which makes them resistant to root pruning.

Guidelines For Root Pruning

  • pruning tree rootsThere are different guidelines for different trees. A mature tree’s roots should not be cut closer than 6-8 inches from the trunk for each inch in trunk diameter. For instance, if the tree’s diameter is 20 inches, cut at least 10 feet away. Alternatively, prune roots no closer to the trunk than a distance equal to 3 to 5 times the trunk diameter. On the other hand, a young tree can withstand complete root pruning on one side at a distance equal to 5 times the trunk diameter without affecting its stability.

Regardless of the rule you choose, recognizing that root pruning can lead to trees falling over or dying is crucial. In contrast, large trees on well-drained soil may not topple due to deeper sinker roots beneath the trunk. Fewer deep roots support the tree on poorly drained and compacted soils, increasing the risk of instability. Therefore, caution and informed decision-making are critical when considering root pruning to preserve the health and stability of trees.

If you are looking for the best pruning and tree removal services for your trees, contact American Tree Experts Inc. today. We are a group of tree experts working in Montclair, New Jersey. Call us today at (973) 744-6091, and we will give you a fantastic quote for free.

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