Root Flare Exposure

What is the root flare?

The root flare is at the base of the tree, typically where the tree meets the ground. The main supporting roots of a tree are called buttress roots, and they form when the tree is a sapling, after the taproot dies (in most species). When the buttress roots are formed, we can see the beginning of them “flare out” at the base of the tree. These are also the largest roots you will find on a tree, as they are providing most of the support to keep the tree from falling over.

The problem

Most trees in an urban setting are planted, and therefore have grown in a nursery. When a tree grows in a nursery, they typically grow in a pot. Therefore when the buttress roots are formed, they begin to grow out, and eventually hit the side of the pot. Since roots always take the easiest path, they will grow sideways, in circles, up, down and all sorts of directions to find water and nutrients and avoid the plastic pot. By the time a customer receives the tree, the root system has typically formed many girdling and circling roots.

Girdling roots occur when a root has grown too close to the trunk of the tree and is now choking the tree. The root grows bigger, the tree grows bigger, so they end up pushing and choking each other. Circling roots are roots that are circling around the tree, following the same pattern of the pot that they were in. These roots are not as efficient because they can’t find as many nutrients next to the tree, and they often become girdling roots.

In addition, most trees are planted way too deeply. Most tree trunks do not have the ability to sustain wet soil conditions for a long period of time. After being buried too deeply for too long, the bark on on the trunk of a tree will often become spongy and susceptible to disease and insects. The root flare also “breathes” and needs oxygen. When it is planted too deeply, it cannot breathe.

If new trees are planted at the correct height, they are often covered up with mulch because most landscapers think this is the correct thing to do for a tree. While mulch is beneficial to a tree, 12” – 24” should be left between the mulch and the base of the tree to leave the root flare uncovered.

The solution

Tree Shepherds uses a large air compressor to blow the dirt away, 12” – 18” from the base of the tree, while keeping the roots from being damaged. After removing the dirt, we prune away circling and girdling roots that could be harmful to the tree.

Some folks are worried about the uncovered root flare looking “ugly” even though it might be beneficial for the tree. Tree Shepherds loves beautiful landscaping as much as anybody, and our clients can rest assured that the result will be pleasing for both the tree and the client.

How to identify if your tree needs a root flare exposure

If you cannot see the beginnings of a root flare or your tree looks like somebody stuck a pole in the ground, your tree needs a root flare. Any age tree can have this done. Whether it was newly planted or is a tree that naturally grew, but construction was done around it and has a lot of fill dirt. We provide free estimates if you are unsure and want a professional opinion. Feel free to call us 972-317-9598

How is a root flare priced?

Tree Shepherds charges by the hour for this service since we can’t see what is under the ground, how deep the root flare is, or how many circling and girdling roots there are. We typically send a crew of two guys out. Our experience has shown us that most trees will take between 20 minutes – 1.5 hours with the average around 30 minutes per tree. Please call or email us if you are interested or for more detailed pricing at 972-317-9598!

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Areas We Serve

We are based in Highland Village, Texas and primarily serve Denton County and the North DFW areas: Argyle, Bartonville, Carrollton, Copper Canyon, Corinth, Denton, Double Oak, Farmers Branch, Flower Mound, Frisco, Justin, Krum, Lake Dallas, Lewisville, Ponder, Roanoke, Sanger, Shady Shores, and The Colony

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