Root Rot in Trees: How Bad Is It?

Root Rot in Trees: How Bad Is It?

13 July 2020
 Categories: , Blog

The symptoms of a sick tree can be fairly similar to one another, regardless of the actual cause of the sickness. The tree's foliage will begin to turn yellow and wilt, branches can begin to lose their stability, and the overall tree can simply appear to be dying. Root rot is a fairly serious ailment in a tree, but by the time the tree begins to display any obvious symptoms, it might already be too late. So how do you know if your tree is far enough gone that it needs to be felled?

An Almost Invisible Illness

It's fairly logical that root rot can be an invisible illness while in its infancy. After all, you cannot easily inspect the roots of the tree, noting that the firm white roots have become discoloured and soft, as they literally begin to rot. But what causes this to happen? And can it be reversed?

Poor Drainage

Root rot can be caused by a number of issues, and if it's due to poor drainage in the soil at the base of the tree, you might be able to correct the problem. Adding grit to the heavy soil anchoring the tree can improve the situation, as can compost, which, when added correctly, will aerate the soil. You might also want to add a durable plastic tarpaulin around the base of the tree with an appropriate hole cut into it to accommodate the trunk. This at least allows you to control the amount of moisture the tree receives. It's only a temporary measure and allows the tree to recover and strengthen its roots. However, not all forms of root rot are caused by poor drainage.

Pathogen-Based Root Rot

In some instances, the root rot has been caused by a pathogen found in water mould, with phytophthora being amongst the most common. While you can treat any drainage issues yourself, it's difficult to treat a pathogen-based form of root rot, and it can be difficult to tell the difference. Have the tree professionally inspected. If the issue is found to be pathogen-based, tree felling and removal of the stump will often become necessary. Although it's disappointing to have to sacrifice the tree, the problematic pathogen can easily spread to other trees and plants on your property, so it's a case of bidding farewell to a tree in order to save its companions. 

Unfortunately, you might be blissfully unaware of the root rot gradually overwhelming one of the trees in your backyard, and if this root rot is pathogen-based, then that tree might not be in your backyard for much longer.

For more information, reach out to a professional who provides tree felling services.