(832) 210-1284

How to Save Your Tree from Strangling Roots

When you first plant a tree, you probably don’t even consider the fact that the tree itself could get a bit weird and all of a sudden start killing itself. This is a weird concept, as mostly everything a tree does is with the intention of trying to thrive and survive outside forces. Trees are built to withstand storms, pests, harsh weather conditions, and more. However, there are some rare occasions when the tree itself will begin to grow oddly formed roots that are known as ‘strangling roots’. Click here for more information Wood Lands Tree Services CO. 

Strangling roots are roots that bind around the tree and start to slowly strangle the main trunk itself. This can be devastating if left unchecked. Here is how you can identify strangling roots and fix the problem before it’s too late. 

Identifying Strangling Roots

The best indication of strangling roots is something known as a ‘mulch volcano’. This is when the surrounding mulch is bulging and pushing upwards along the base of the trunk like a little elementary school science project. Contrary to popular belief, too much mulch around the base of the tree can actually be a bad idea. This covers up the root flare and makes it hard to identify problems in the area. Too much mulching over the root flare can actually cause strangling roots themselves. 

If you notice that your mulch is creating a ‘volcano’, and covering the root flare, begin by removing all the mulch to expose the root flare. This will help you to find the roots that are entangled and strangling the root flare. 

Fixing the Strangling Root Problem

Strangling roots are easily identifiable as they are roots that wrap themselves around the root flare horizontally instead of outwards into the soil. These are the roots that will slowly choke off life and make the tree unstable and dangerous. To remove these, simply use pruning shears or a saw to gently cut them away–be careful to not damage the healthy roots. The process of removing strangling roots is actually very simple and often only takes a couple of hours from start to finish. 

Often strangling roots that have been left alone for too long can become adhered to or grafted to healthy roots. With these, you should simply cut away the linking areas between healthy roots and leave the grafted areas on top. So long as the strangling root itself is not connected together anymore as a link, it cannot grow. 

Preventing Future Strangling Roots

The best way to prevent future strangling roots is to mulch your tree base properly. Too much mulch can give strangling roots too much room to grow awkwardly. You should always leave room for exposure of the top of the root flare. The root flare of the tree should stick out above the mulch about 1 – 2 inches. Ideally, your mulch will form a ring outward beginning about 2 – 3 inches from the base of the root flare. This will give the roots room to breathe and prevent malformations in the root system. 


Proper mulching and preventative measures are your best defense against strangling roots. However, if the problem does occur, it can be fixed in an afternoon if you make the time to do it. Luckily, strangling roots are a problem that don’t have to be deadly if you act fast and stay vigilant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *