Urban Tree Roots Systems
It is estimated that over 80% of all landscape problems originate below ground, but even basic knowledge about urban soils and root management is lacking. Insufficient rooting space, poor soil drainage, soil compaction, roots severed during transplanting or construction, and root disease are among the numerous below-ground causes of tree problems that need to be better understood. The goal of tree root research is to foster improved practices for planting and maintaining city trees.
Tree root systems are naturally very shallow and widespread. As urban trees grow, root development is hindered by restricted spaces and disturbed soils. Root research at The Morton Arboretum looks into how tree roots function under stressful conditions, how to manage roots throughout a tree's development, and how to improve below-ground planting conditions. Our most recent investigations are on alteration of root architecture resulting from nursery production practices, how to improve root structure in urban soils, root management, and the effects of fertilization on root development.
The Arboretum's leading researcher on root biology and management is Gary Watson.