The Q&A Archives: Tree Root Disturbance

Question: We have a Japanese maple tree -- leaves are drying out.
Roots have been disturbed what can be done?

Answer: Although I'm not quite clear on to what extent the roots have been disturbed, the best thing you can do is to treat the tree as you would a newly planted one: water it regularly and keep it mulched with several inches of organic mulch to conserve soil moisture and keep down weed competition. These trees prefer an evenly moist yet well drained (not soggy) soil, so check with your finger to be sure the soil is moist beneath the mulch. A deeper watering about every five to seven days is better than a light daily sprinkling, and be sure to cover the entire remaining root system, keeping in mind that the roots often extend well beyond the branch line. If the root disturbance was extremely severe, you may find that parts of the tree die back to compensate for the reduced moisture uptake. You might wish to consult with a professional arborist or your County Extension with regard to the particular damage your tree has suffered, particularly if it is an important tree. Good luck with your tree!

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