University of Florida

Circling Roots on Trees

As a tree grows, its roots are supposed to radiate outwards. But in some cases, roots circle around the rootball or base of the trunk and cause serious problems.

Circling roots can prevent a tree from developing a strong and balanced root system, affecting its ability to withstand high winds during storms. They can also girdle the tree, cutting off its flow of water and nutrients and eventually killing it.

Help prevent these problems by carefully inspecting the roots of new trees at planting time. Cut back any circling roots with pruning shears, and use a sharp shovel or knife to shave off the outer half-inch of the root ball.

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