Trees grown in Toronto and GTA are often subjected to different environmental stresses. They can get stressed from water deficit, extremely high and low temperatures, mineral deficiency in soil (click for more info on deep root feeding), air pollution, or poor root aeration. Trees under mild stress may have early fall color and leaf drop, and trees exposed to more extreme levels of stress can show progressive canopy thinning and limb die back. Basically, trees under stress is a serious issue and, if it is not dealt with promptly, can result in major damages up to the death of the tree.
Soil compaction, which is the reason for poor root aeration, is the form of stress that is particularly important for the health and well-being of city trees. Roots require a continual supply of oxygen which feeds the roots of the tree and myriads of tiny organisms that play a major role in the tree’s ability to absorb soil borne nutrients. In nature, the roots of the trees would be covered with a layer of topsoil that is composed of fallen leaves. This layer through constant decay will provide a light mulch over the root zones. In urban landscapes, this leaf layer is usually removed every fall and after many seasons of watering, the soil layer becomes highly compacted. When soil is compacted, soil aeration and permeability are decreased, and it becomes more difficult for roots to penetrate the soil.
Tree Doctors can provide soil aeration services which will deal with soil compaction issues around a tree’s root zone. Our experienced arborists will use an air spade to safely remove the top level of soil without causing damage to the tree, and replace it with a special compound containing everything needed for the tree’s well-being. Air spading is the safest and the most advanced method for root excavation and soil aeration. It requires a high-pressure air compressor with a specially designed air spade nozzle to carefully remove the top level of soil to expose the roots. It can also be used to check the roots of the tree for defects and damages.
Soil Aeration is also widely used for helping trees cope with stress caused by construction activity when heavy equipment is stored or operated near the root zone of the tree.
For the residents of Ontario, aerated soil is great because it is more resistant to fluctuations and extremes in temperature than we’ve seen happening here in the last few years. During our hot summers and cold winters, it plays an important part in the tree’s overall good health. Compacted soil heats up quickly and reaches higher temperatures. High soil temperatures increase evaporation rates, resulting in less water reaching the roots.
Air Spading can also be used to check for Girdling. Girdling roots is a common issue caused by the tree containers or cages forcing the roots to grow improperly. Air spading can expose roots so that arborist can check for girdling and fix it.
Root Pruning is very similar to tree pruning and it also requires root excavation. Root pruning requires proper equipment and techniques. Sometimes roots have to be pruned to avoid damage to the sidewalk or driveway, while other times roots can be damaged by construction and need to be pruned to help the tree survive or fight the injury. Root pruning should only be done by an experienced arborist or under direct arborist supervision.
If your tree is under stress and you are not sure if Soil Aeration is what it needs, call Tree Doctors and one of our certified arborists will be happy to schedule a free site visit.