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I was at a local Stop & Shop and noticed a small tree in their landscape that had just fallen over. When I looked closer, it had no roots! What in the world happened? Robin

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I was at a local Stop & Shop and noticed a small tree in their landscape that had just fallen over. When I looked closer, it had no roots! What in the world happened? Robin Hello Robin. What you are seeing is the effect of "volcano mulching" of that tree. It seems like everywhere you look, you'll see trees mulched in this manner, especially in commercial establishments. For some reason, maintenance people that don't know any better, like to pile up mulch around the base of trees. Unfortunately, that is a slow death sentence for the trees and every year untold thousands of trees are killed by this type of mulching practice. Mulch should go no higher than the root flare of a tree (the area at the base of the tree that flares out and gets wider).

Allowing mulch to go higher up the tree stem, causes small fibrous roots to get started growing into the mulch. Given time, these roots actually wrap around the base of the tree and "girdle" the tree. As a girdling root grows, it expands and eventually cuts off the remaining roots of the tree, which then die. Once that happens, there are no more roots to anchor the tree and the tree falls over, which is what you see in the picture you sent me.

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About Linda Lillie

Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.

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