Maple Tree – Girdling Root

Q: I took your advice and examined the base of my declining maple tree and found a big root pressing against the base. Should I remove the root or let it be?

A: Much depends on how big the root is. When a root closely circles a tree trunk rather than growing outward, it is called a “girdling root”. As it grows larger and the trunk expands, pressure against the tree base limits water and nutrients going to the leaves. I see this frequently, especially on maple trees that were grown in containers. If less than one-fourth of the trunk is damaged, remove the root now. Wait until winter to remove larger roots. Details at xrl.us/girdling.