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Maple Tree with dirt on roots

Q: Can a tree be saved that has several feet of dirt on the root spread, but not on the trunk?

It's a maple. A lot of the leaves have turned red and look droopy.


A: If is is only recently that the fill soil has been piled on, then it may be possible to save the tree if the soil is carefully removed back to the original grade as soon as possible.

Care should be taken not to go deeper than the original grade or you will be damaging roots that are near the surface.

If the fill soil was applied last year or before, then it may be too late but you can try anyway.

Once the fill soil has been removed, have the soil aerated either by drilling holes in it or with an air excavation tool known as an air knife. Only an arborist would have an air knife available, so you would need to contact one in your area to find this out.

The drill-hole method works fine as well. The holes should be 2" in diameter and about 12-18" deep, spaced 2-3 feet apart.

Once this is done, water the area for about 1 hour, then apply mulch about 2" deep. Water weekly if there is insufficient rainfall, which is 1-2" of rain per 7-10 days on average.

Then, keep your fingers crossed and hope you have saved the tree.

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Arborist Tom Mugridge

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