What Are Some Facts About Tree Roots and How to Protect Them?

What Are Some Facts About Tree Roots and How to Protect Them

If you love trees then a proper understanding of trees, roots, and best tree root treatments are a must. 

Since the beginning, trees are necessary for our existence alongside providing food and oxygen they benefit living beings in several other ways and are vital for survival. This makes understanding trees, tree roots, and how to keep them protected for the existence of human life important.

Significance of Trees

Trees have been around for more than 300 million years, since then they have fed, nurtured, provided shelter, and transformed our and our ancestors’ lives. Yet, we tend to take them for granted and clear millions of forested areas every year, for short-term gain. In fact, trees are a living example of procreation and how reproduction work. They are a combination of leaves, stems, roots, buds, and bark, which we can see, but what about roots? 

Are they only to support the tree or do they have other functions? This is what we never pay attention to and hence trees die. Therefore, it’s time to learn about tree roots and what is their importance.

Tree Roots

Generally, tree roots are considered to be growing far down into the ground. However, that is not the case for all trees. Trees with long taproots have such roots while other trees have roots growing out horizontally. A well-built and strong tree has roots spread 3X in diameter and a tree that’s 30 feet tall can have roots that reach out to 60-90 feet. That’s not all, roots can grow anywhere in the soil, on the surface of the soil, in the water, and even in the air. Moreover, roots take place whenever and wherever the environment provides the water, oxygen, support, minerals, and warmth necessary for growth. 

Roots are essential for a healthier tree therefore if you understand the myths that surround tree roots you can grow your plant in a healthy tree in the correct way. 

Types of Roots –

Tap Roots – 

Every tree starts with a taproot and these roots provide stability & absorption. Most taproots stop growing after a while as deep soil lacks oxygen and nutrients. Due to this other roots outgrow tap roots and mature trees rarely have taproots.

Lateral Roots – 

These roots obtain their stability from tree weight and they grow outwards right under the soil surface. Though they don’t a lot of root mass yet they absorb a lot of water and nutrients. About 80% of urban trees have a lateral root system.

Heart Roots – 

These roots grow diagonally and function like lateral roots.

Sinker Roots –

These roots grow downwards from the lateral roots to a deeper level and they provide improved tree stability.

Feeder Roots – These roots grow in the top 3 inches of soil and supply trees with water and food.

All the aforesaid tree roots give rise to fine roots where the most absorption of water and nutrients is done. 

Tree Root Myths

1. All Trees Have Single Tap Roots 

As explained most trees don’t have taproots. They rapidly produce water-seeking lateral and feeder roots. 

  1. Tree Roots Only Grow to a Tree’s Dripline

Most people believe that roots stay under the tree. However, this seldom happens as tree roots grow laterally and they go beyond their leaves and branches in search of water & nutrients. 

  1. Deeper Roots Conserver Water and Nutrients 

On the contrary, the feeder roots provide immediate nutrients and moisture. Soil disturbance removes feeder roots which can impact the tree and kill it. 

Now that we know about different types of roots, what role do they play, it’s time to know why trees die. 

Why Exactly Trees Die? 

If the once healthy tree suddenly starts to decay or die signs of insect infestation, damage caused by animals, and other obvious signs. However, if nothing of this is present it’s time to look for the problem beneath the ground. Sometimes the problem might not be visible above ground. Hence paying attention to roots is a must. The common reason for it can be Root Rot. 

What is Rot Root?

As the name explains, rot root refers to the decay of the root system. This can happen in both indoor and outdoor plants, trees, and shrubs. There are two main reasons for rot roots –

  1. Poor drainage results in oversaturation of soil. 
  2. Fungal infection

When the soil has too much moisture, it cannot pull oxygen due to which the tree starts to die. Also, overwatered trees help dormant fungal spores to produce. Due to this fungus spreads quickly causing rot root.

Symptoms of Rot Root


  1. Brown leaves 
  2. Smaller leaves than normal 
  3. Decaying and weak branches 
  4. Thinner canopy 
  5. Poor growth

How to Prevent Rot Root?

  1. Plants trees in amended and properly cultivated soil. 
  2. Avoid overwatering plants.
  3. Create a moat around trees.
  4. Avoid water pooling around trunks.
  5. Address storm damage and soil erosion.
  6. Plant disease-resistant species. 
  7. Prevent soil compacting. 
  8. Place tree fertilizers where trees can get them. Don’t place them too deep. 
  9. Trim trees at the right time and place.
  10. Prune flowering trees within three weeks of when blooming is completed.
  11. Water plants slowly as it prevents runoff and ensures water reaches the deep root system.
  12. Avoid using a ladder when trimming out of reach branches.
  13. Mulch around the base of the tree to avoid weeds and cutting grass around it. 

Long Live Trees

With the help of these signs and protective measures, you can keep your trees alive for a long. Taking action when you notice a problem with the tree will increase the chances of saving them and preventing further problems. 

Take care of your trees they are important for your survival.