Tree Care Tips: How to Identify and Remedy Soil Compaction Around Your Trees

When it comes to maintaining trees in your home, regular watering, trimming, and inspecting them is critical in preserving their appearance all year round. However, there are times when trees may show signs of poor growth and retardation even after following the proper maintenance routine. In most of these cases, the main problem could be soil compaction around the trees. Soil compaction occurs as one walks or uses heavy equipment such as mowers around the tree. Read on to find the effects of soil compaction around the trees, how to detect it, and the measures you can take to restore the soil.

Effects of soil compaction

The pressure caused by human traffic and heavy equipment packs soil particles around the tree close together. As a result, water flows somewhere else instead of seeping into the ground for the tree roots to absorb. The trees end up absorbing little or no water after watering them or during the rainy season, and this will result in dehydration.

Packed soil particles do not provide enough air for the tree roots to thrive. This may cause some of the roots to die, and the remaining ones may not be able to absorb enough nutrients and water for the trees to grow. If not addressed, soil compaction around the trees can cause the roots to weaken and threaten the stability of the tree.

How to detect soil compaction

The first sign of compaction is stunted growth in your trees even after providing adequate water and nutrients. However, you have to inspect your soil first as other factors such as tree diseases can have the same effects on trees. You will need a screwdriver from your toolbox or workshop to test the soil. Push the screwdriver into the ground around the trees. If it's hard to push it down, your soil is compacted.

If you don't have a screwdriver at hand, you can scoop a handful of soil and inspect it. If it looks grayish, dull, and dry, it means that it is compacted. You need to restore it before the health of your trees is affected.

How to restore compacted soil

The best way to restore compacted soil is by adding mulch to the soil around the tree. You can make your mulch from leaves, grass cuttings, and wood chips or purchase it from a store. Mix the mulch into the top few inches of the soil. Mulch adds nutrients into the soil and facilitates proper intake of water and air. It also preserves moisture and prevents the soil around the trees from drying up.

Contact an arborist if the soil around your trees is not restored after using mulch. They will employ other techniques such as drilling holes into the soil to break up the particles.