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The LW Treecare Blog

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How good is your root?

Some facts from the 4th edition of Arboriculture (Richard Harris, James Clark and Nelda Matheny) can make it easier to predict where roots might be:

  • Roots are opportunistic. There will be more roots when conditions are favorable. Fertile, moist, uncompacted soils will have more fibrous roots.

  • In dry, compacted soils with no organic matter, roots are fewer but larger and able to grow further distances from the plant.

  • Open-grown trees often have a wider root system than trees closely planted together. Some species, such as Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) can root-graft with others of their kind, sharing nutrients, stabilizing each other and reducing the stress on each individual tree.

  • Root systems may grow wider when downward growth is restricted, such as by a high water table or perhaps bedrock.

However, roots can always surprise you, and direct inspection is always required to be sure where roots are.


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