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Landscaping Tip: Prevent Stem Girdling Root Syndrome

by on July 4, 2012

Planting a tree is the most important step in that tree’s development. If the roots of the tree are planted too deeply, extra roots will grow at the ground’s surface in an effort to receive the water and nutrients the tree needs to survive. When the roots of the tree are planted too deeply, they cannot adequately sustain the tree. These surface roots, or epicormic roots, will compromise the structural steadiness of the tree, causing the tree to bend and have a thin or bare canopy, as well as smaller leaves that are susceptible to wilting or scorching. But even more detrimental to the tree is if these epicormic roots grow too close to the trunk. This disorder is called stem girdling root syndrome (SGRS), whereby the tree is essentially suffocated by the epicormic roots which are blocking the flow of water and nutrients into the upper tree parts.

If you aren’t sure if your tree is suffering from SGRS, here are some other indications:

  • Sun-scalded or frost-cracked trunk
  • Pinched trunk appearance at ground surface
  • Off-colored or yellowish leaves
  • Leaves turn and drop away earlier than fall
  • No root flare at ground surface
  • Tree trunk is flattened on one of more sides

If trees with SGRS aren’t treated, they will certainly die at some point. If your tree is showing symptoms of SGRS, your landscaping specialist should be called out to inspect the tree and perform a root excavation. If the technician determines that the tree has SGRS, he will make surgical cuts that will keep water and nutrients flowing through the trunk and stabilize the tree itself.

Early diagnosis is the best way to go, as certain trees such as maples and lindens are more susceptible to SGRS. If newly planted trees are monitored by a landscaping specialist, the tree and its roots can be manipulated to prohibit SGRS from developing. The landscaping technicians will also provide regular pruning, treat with insecticides and fungicides, use deep root tree injections and advise you on a sufficient watering schedule to stop other problems from developing.

Call your landscaping company today to find out more about how you can stop stem girdling root syndrome from developing in your trees.

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