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shallow rooting plants and trees

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by bobbygedd, Mar 19, 2004.

  1. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    customer has a problem with trees and shrubs, actually falling over, roots and all. in the fall, after a bad wind storm, she asked if i would stake up a huge white pine that had fallen over. i looked, and there were no roots, the root system seemed to stop developing, i imagine there was more to it when it was first put in. now, the tree itself looked healthy and strong, needles intact, limbs healthy, but no roots, it just fell right over. she called today, and said now many trees, and even small shrubbery(azealeas, rhodes, hollies) have fallen in the same manner. we had lots of snow this year, more than usual, and this last one was very wet and heavy, i think that caused the tipping, but why the shallow rooting? one thing i noticed in the fall, was all her planting beds have weed barrier, or plastic, with mulch on top of it. i told her of the hazards, she didn't want to hear it, saying it's been that way for years. any ideas?
     
  2. KenH

    KenH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,622

    Is there ledge in the area???
     
  3. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    ledge? please explain. do you mean, are the plantings on a slope or drop off? yes and no, it varies, the white pine was at the top of a steep slope. there is a hemlock that is on a flat surface in a different area, and many of the shrubs are on level ground. one thing that stands out to me, the plastic crap is bad news, but also: there is more shade than sun. and, she has no lawn, strictly landscaped beds in a back woods setting, with sprinklers in the beds. could she be overwatering, causing the roots to rot, because the exposure is primarily shade?
     
  4. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,850

    i think he was referring to ledge rock stopping the roots from growing out.
     
  5. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    ooo, i'm sorry. no, there is no rock or hard surfaces preventing roots from spreading
     
  6. KenH

    KenH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,622

    Well, if the soil is always wet due to shade, and she also waters, could be a root rot problem. Keeping plants wet does not force their root system to search out water (hence shallow root systems) and also makes it a difficult medium to anchor in.
     
  7. NNJLandman

    NNJLandman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,306

    Try a product called Root Tone, i believe that is susposed to help roots of plants along.
     
  8. heritage

    heritage LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,249

    Bobbygedd,
    Take a sample of the root system and some soil from the area to the hunterdon cooperative extension on rt. 31 in flemington next to the hospital. They will tell you EXACTLY what the problem is and how to go about it properly. You will be able to tell your client the true problem and how they should treat it. You will have made a customer for life.
    :D

    Pete D.
     
  9. Turfdude

    Turfdude LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,900

    Maybe the subsoil is poor quality clay or marl and the roots simply cannot penetrate it. If this is true, the top soil will always be moist and w/ the root system i this top layer, w/ a lot of strong winds, or heavy snow, the trees/shrubs are actually acting like a lever prying the upper soil layer away from the base. Just a theory, The only way to possibly correct this would be to amend the soil to a much deeper than normal depth for any new plantings.
     
  10. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    pete, i'm gonna do exactly that. are u tellin me i can just walk right in, and they will take care of it? how much $?
     

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