Girdling roots can feel like a death sentence for your tree. As the roots encircle the trunk of your tree, they essentially strangle it, depleting it of water and nutrients. To treat this condition, you have to first understand why it happens in the first place.

At SoutheastTree, we know girdling roots all too well and understand the damage they can do to even the strongest trees. Read on to learn what our tree service professionals in Alpharetta have to say about girdling roots and how to best protect your trees.

What Causes Girdling Roots?

The leading cause of girdling roots is poor planting. If trees are left in their nursery containers too long, the tree roots will begin circling the bottom of the container as they grow. When these trees are planted in the ground, these roots often become girdling roots.

Another factor that can lead to girdling roots is planting trees too deeply. When a tree is planted too deep, the roots cannot grow properly. As a result, the roots won’t have access to adequate water and nutrients in the soil, causing malnutrition.

Other risk factors that can cause girdling roots include compacted soil, planting too close to foundations, curbs, and other obstructions. Each of these things can dramatically impact root growth, causing your tree to suffer from girdling roots.

What Do Girdling Roots Look Like?

Girdling roots tend to stick out like a sore thumb. To identify whether you’re dealing with girdling roots, check the trunk. A typical trunk will flare out where it meets the ground, resulting in a natural transition from the trunk to the root system.

A tree with girdling roots might appear to stick straight up from the ground or become narrower towards the bottom. Other signs of girdling roots include circling roots above the soil surface.

How to Treat Girdling Roots

Once you’ve identified that your tree has girdling roots, you should act immediately to preserve the health of your tree. The best way to treat girdling roots is prevention. Take the following precautions when planting a tree.

Dig the Right Size Planting Hole

Deeper is not better when it comes to planting a tree. Instead, ensure that your planting hole is two or three times as wide as the root ball but never deeper than it.

Loosen and Straighten Circling Roots

If you notice encircling roots at the base of the root ball, make sure you loosen and straighten these before planting. This will allow your roots space for proper development.

Inspect Root Flare Regularly

Keep an eye on the root flare to ensure normal development. The quicker you can spot signs of girdling roots, the better.

Water New Trees Frequently

New trees need a significant amount of water for proper root development, so make sure you water your tree consistently.

Decompact the Soil

Keep your soil loose and breathable for proper growth and development of your tree.

Contact an Arborist

If your problem with girdling roots is advanced, enlist the help of a certified arborist. They can consult you on the best course of action, whether that be removing the roots or potentially removing the tree.

Attack Girdling Roots at the Source, Contact SoutheastTree Today

At SoutheastTree, we’ve been providing expert tree services in the Atlanta area since 1997. Our clients trust us because of our commitment to offering quality, dependable services when they need it most. If you need help with girdling roots or are wondering what’s the best time to remove trees, give our team a call at (770) 977-8733 and schedule a consultation.


SoutheastTree is one of the best, top rated full-service tree removal companies serving the Atlanta, GA area. Our team of trained arborists are experts in the art and science of removing trees.

Contact Us

4710 Lower Roswell Rd. Suite 100
Marietta, GA 30068

Phone : 770-977-8733 (TREE)

24/7 Emergency Tree Removal:
(678) 631-7382

Email :

Call Now Button