Millions of Upstate Trees Die Every Year Due To Girdling

tree girdling diagram

Millions of our Upstate Trees are dying due to the way they are planted & the girdling that results. Anything that disrupts the vital flow of nutrients from the leaves to the roots can choke your tree to death. Girdling is a slow, grueling demise that usually goes unnoticed until your tree dies or falls over years later.

Unless you can see the root flares (I) assume your tree is girdled-until proven otherwise. Girdling is a preventable urban tree disease (planting). If your tree has one or more of these symptoms-whether a new installation or a mature tree-it may already be too late. Call for a Root Collar Inspection today! Catch our ’99 Ways to Girdle a Tree’ in our slideshow below (all photos copyright Randy Cyr).

Anatomy of a Girdled Tree

tree girdling diagram

(A)  A typical Upstate tree (maple) showing the symptoms of girdling. Though we’ve pulled back the mulch, the roots flares (I) remain buried below the soil.

     (1)  Dieback (receding branch death, usually starting at the top) most always points to root & soil problems.

     (2)  Guy lines left on can choke a tree to death. Most properly-installed trees don’t require guying. Few trees require additional support after 1 growing season-if properly installed.

     (3)  Prolific lichens and moss, though not harmful of itself, point to dangerously slow growth.

     (4)  Excessive sprouting points to starvation.

     (5)  Butt rot (decay fungi), begins below ground, and eventually works its way up through the lower trunk, causing cracking (B), bark lesions (red arrows) & finally, open wounds (A & C).

     (6)  Early fall color & leaf drop often points to stress.

     (7)  Volcano mulching (piling mulch up against the trunk), though practiced almost universally in the Upstate, will, nonetheless, kill your tree.

     (8)  Burying a tree eventually rots the bark; first, the outer bark (A), then the inner bark (B), and finally, the cambium (C).

     (9)  A tree’s roots follow the path of least resistance, even if it means choking itself to death.

     (10) Landscaping materials, such as wire & nylon straps, left on the root-ball after planting, can eventually girdle a tree.

(B) A typical new installation planted too deep, with poor drainage.

(C) After years of being buried in mulch-while rotting above & below ground-this oak may fall on the home before it dies.

(D) Multiple girdling is common. Here, girdling is from roots & green nylon straps-a real mess!

(E) A tree can become so badly girdled that it’s not feasible to correct.

(F) Any medium, natural or man-made, which traps moisture against the trunk, will eventually rot the bark.

(G) Volcano mulching, left too long, can become one solid root mass that’s almost impossible to remove. While our air tools can easily remove soil & mulch…

(H) …rocks, landscaping materials & roots can be a real chore.

(I) Unless you can see your tree’s root flares (yellow arrows), you don’t know that your tree is safe & healthy.

Tree Evaluations & Reports

Before you call a tree removal service, let our impartial consulting arborists identify potential hazards and diseases, and recommend proven solutions. Our approach spares our clients needless worry and, often, thousands of dollars in removal and treatment costs.

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