Trees – Untangling Roots

Q: We purchased twenty five trees last weekend. Most of them were last year’s stock, so they are stuck in the pots with lots of tangled roots. How do we untangle and separate these tough roots?

A: Use a strong stream of water to wash as much soil as you can from the root ball. Then use a strong trowel to untangle the roots. It may take some muscle but you should be able to get a few unwound. Look carefully to be sure no roots are circling tightly against the base of the trunk. As they grow larger, they can strangle the tree. Clip them if found. Loosen the soil in a six foot diameter circle around the spot you’ve chosen for each tree. Excavate the center so the tree will be planted at the same level at which it grew in the pot. Spread out the roots and cover with the excavated soil. The best way to support the tree is to hammer a strong, six foot long stake a foot away from the trunk. Use strips of cloth or an old bicycle inner tube to very loosely attach the tree to the stake.

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