Grass and weeds on root base of red leaf maple
Hi, I have a red leaf maple growing in the parking strip by my house. The root base is jammed up because of the lack of space, and there are a number of plants (grass, sedum, the occasional spanish bluebell, dandelions) growing on the root base/at the bottom of the trunk. Is this bad for the tree? Should I be trying to pull everything off? Underneath the plants, is seems as though the root/trunk has gone somewhat soft -- it looks more like mulch than anything solid -- so I worry that perhaps the plants are more protection than harm and I should leave them. What to do? Thanks!
Multnomah County Oregon urban forestry
The plants at the base of your maple tree have some potential to compete with the tree for soil moisture and nutrients, depending on the amount of soil that is available and the level of irrigation or fertilization the tree roots can access. The plant cover appears to be light and I do not think they are likely to be a significant problem. An indicator that the tree is in good health would be that it is leafing out fully and the leaves stay green and healthy through the summer. If the crown is thin, leaves are not full sized, or they are not healthy green that would indicate problems.
The big problem for that tree longer term is the limited rooting space and the potential for it to become unstable as it gets bigger and outgrows the rooting space.