I'm wondering if my tree was planted too deeply. It was planted about two...

Asked September 7, 2013, 4:25 PM EDT

I'm wondering if my tree was planted too deeply. It was planted about two years ago by Stadlers and when I learned that a tree should have a flair at the base, I dug around this tree to see if there was more a flair under the soil. It appears there are small roots wrapping around the trunk. What do you think?

Frederick County Maryland

3 Responses

Yes, your tree was planted too deeply. It's hard to say whether the tree rootball was actually put into a planting hole at all, because you can't see the flare, but it appears that soil was piled onto the tree trunk and then mulched. It is natural for the tree to grow up closer to the soil to reach oxygen and water when its roots are too deep.

Please see our website publication on planting too deeply: http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG86%20Common%20Abio...

Here's more info on girdling roots: http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG201%20Homeowner%20...

Thank you for that clear response and helpful publications. I have continued to dig down around the tree base to find where the trunk flair begins. As I dig through the compacted soil, I see lots of small roots that seem to be running upwards toward the surface, not horizontally. Should I clip these roots? Attached is a photo with a ruler showing that I have dug down about 4.5 inches. The trunk does get a bit larger at the base, but it still doesn't seem to flair into large roots. I have clipped off a few larger girding roots that were about 1/2 diameter - you can see on of them in the picture. Should I keep digging?

It would be appropriate for you to dig down an inch or two further, clipping the smaller roots as you go. It may be helpful to water the area thoroughly before you begin digging and again after you remove more soil. Be gentle so as not to damage any of the larger roots.