Tree Roots – Surfacing

Q: I am trying to set my wife straight. (Ha!!!) Do tree roots come to the surface for air?

A:
Not exactly, but close. The best way to describe it is that roots grow in areas where there is sufficient air. If a young tree’s roots can’t penetrate hard clay soil, they creep along the surface nearby. As the tree matures, the roots grow bigger in diameter. The upper surface of major roots then slowly rises above the soil. Erosion washes soil away from the roots as well. Feeder roots at the end of the major roots, though, remain below the soil. So, roots DO look for aerified soil but I can’t say they “come up for air”. You can prevent surface roots by thoroughly loosening a ten foot diameter circle of soil around the spot where you initially plant a tree.

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