Marshall Tree Farm

Root Training/Development and Root Pruning

The following was distributed at the 1995 Menninger Sunbelt Tree Conference By Roy
A. Mecklenburg

Root Training/Development

  • Circling/girdling roots can develop in a 2 inch seedling pot, 1 gallon, or 5 gallon
    container and prevent successful tree transplanting and establishment years
    later.
  • If circling roots are not cut, roots will not move out of the root ball and the tree will
    blow down with every wind and will require constant irrigation within the root ball.
  • In short it may never become fully established.
    The only cure is to cut the girdling roots which will be a severe shock to the tree.

Root Pruning 

  • Every transplanting is in fact a root pruning, producing a more compact root
    system. Only a small percent of the root length of a nursery-grown tree is moved
    with the tree, but this small fraction of length represents 75% of the total root
    weight.
  • Native, or collected trees, will benefit from root pruning, but it should be carried
    out one growing season before the final digging. The final root/soil ball should
    included one foot of new roots formed after root pruning.
  • Trees can be balled and burlapped, wrapped in plastic and replanted in the same
    hole for a few months to harden off. During this time many fine roots develop
    making establishment in the final location quicker. This will also reduce
    transpiration during transporting the trees. All plastic covering must be removed
    at planting.