When planting near trees, it’s great if you know where the tree roots are so you can avoid doing damage to them. Many people don’t realize that the first top 6 inches of soil is where the vast majority of all tree roots are and that they generally spread out way beyond the canopy. This artist’s illustration of a real tree and it’s roots from the Morton Arboretum (in Chicago), shows the truth of the matter very plainly. An arborist from Care of Trees, shared this drawing with me. They specialize in you guessed it …


Damaging soil compaction often happens when people renovate their homes. It can’t be helped when big digging and multi-ton equipment is envolved. A “hardpan” forms at or under the surface and people see the poor water filtration symptomatically. The worst compaction happens when soil is wet and then basically squished beyond belief, expunging air from between soil particles, leaving no room for nuetrients, air and water to circulate. Everything a tree needs, except sunlight, comes from underground, so you can see why soil compaction stresses a tree. For a more in depth, but fairly understandable explanation of the topic, read University of Georgia article, Soil Compaction & Trees, Causes, Symptoms & Effects by Dr. Kim Coder.

this photo was originally uploaded by canopy photo. A professional arborist used an air spade to check this Live Oak’s roots for health and vitality.

People in this bussiness can use great technology to help you save and keep your mature trees even with major home or landscape renovation. They can help prevent soil compaction by using “protection and airation mats”, that distribute the weight of heavy equiment or top soil or even a concrete path over the top of roots, while allowing proper air and water flow; or “de-compact” soils using a tool called an “air spade” which blasts air into the soil at mach 2, lifting compacted soil. After that you can renovate the soil with appropriate organic material by “radial or vertical mulching”. I think this is fantastic.  This artical from GROUNDS MAINTENANCE by E. Thomas Smiley, explains these treatments more fully.