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Good planting practices protect for decades

The recent windstorm blew down this 2′ diameter maple that was probably planted only 10-15 years before.  This tree is on my jogging route and I took a look into the hole as I went by and did a double take.  I could see three reasons that this massive tree fell that were the result of bad practices at planting time:

  1. The mulched are around the tree was likely too small and the tree was hit by a string trimmer resulting in a bare spot that decayed.

  2. The root ball was not examined for roots growing in a circular pattern (called girdling roots). Girdling roots should be cut before planting because they don’t anchor the tree as well as typical roots

  3. The planting hole was not dug large enough and boulders were thrown in the planting hole, inhibiting root growth and leading to a less stable root system.

I could imagine the scenario on planting day.  No one bothered to examine the rootball and cut away girdling or other wayward roots.  No one bothered to bring in additional top soil and take away the rocks that were turned up, so they just got thrown into the hole.  No one thought it would ever make a difference.