Root Collar Excavation

Maybe you are scratching your head wondering “What is a root collar? How does it get buried?” The root collar, which is also known as the root flare, is defined as the place where the roots join the trunk of a tree. It is the base of the trunk where it spreads out before becoming roots underground. For a healthy tree without a buried root collar, you should see a nice flare at the base of the trunk. If you do not see a flare, the root collar is likely buried.

Buried root collars are one of the most common tree health issues we correct on a regular basis for clients in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County and the counties of Inland Empire, Antelope Valley, Kern, Ventura and Santa Barbara.

Root collars are buried through various means such planting the tree or shrub too deep, grading, during cultivation at the nursery, and our favorite, the infamous mulch volcano. The mulch volcano is perhaps the most common form of a buried root collar. It is the term used to refer to mulch, dirt, or other debris piled high around the base of a tree or shrub, often for decorative purposes.

Regardless of whether the root collar is buried due to a mulch volcano, grading, or some other reason, it is very bad for a tree or shrub for the following reasons:

  • It keeps the trunk moist. Trunks are designed to grow above ground and have not adapted the ability to withstand constant moisture. Only roots can withstand constant moisture.
  • The constant moisture causes damage to the cells of the trunk, usually through suffocation.
  • As the cells become damaged, they are unable to perform critical functions.
  • In addition, roots will grow in the soil or mulch around the trunk and begin girdling. Girdling roots will slowly kill the tree/shrub by inhibiting the exchange of water, nutrients, and photosynthate (food) between the canopy towards the roots.
  • As cell functionality diminishes and as roots girdle the tree, the plant declines in health due to lack of nutrients, water, gas exchange, etc.
  • As the tree or shrub declines in health, it becomes more susceptible to attack from insects, diseases, and harmful fungi, which greatly compound the existing health issues.

The good news is that this is a problem we can usually fix. To do so, we carefully excavate the root collar using an Air Spade and prune any problematic roots. This assumes this issue has not advanced to the point where it is irreversible, or it does not make financial sense to perform the necessary service. They key is to cause minimal damage to the root system and clear all mulch, dirt, roots, etc away from the trunk.

If you have trees or shrubs with buried root collars or mulch volcanoes, do not wait. This problem only gets worse and harder to fix with time. We would love to send one of our ISA Certified Arborists out to meet with you, evaluate your mulch volcanoes, and provide a free proposal on how to proceed.

Root Collar Excavation Service Areas: 

Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County and the counties of Inland Empire, Antelope Valley, Kern, Ventura and Santa Barbara.

Need Us Now? Let’s Talk. (844) 784-8338