Strong root systems act as anchors. Without a deep, extensive root system, trees topple during storms. Container plants may become rootbound as expanding root systems are forced to grow in the shape of the pot.
Here's how to encourage roots to expand outwards through the soil rather than continue wrapping around themselves:
- Dig a good hole at planting time. Preparing the planting hole will get the tree off to a good start.
- Apply water around the entire canopy. Actively growing roots are at the edge of the tree canopy, not near the trunk. Move drip irrigation emitters and enlarge watering basins outward as canopies expand.
- Adjust the watering schedule as trees grow. Trees require water less frequently, but for longer periods of time, to reach expanding root systems.
If rootbound, loosen and spread roots before planting. It may be necessary to make several vertical cuts through the rootball with a sharp knife.
Don't spread impermeable plastic or landscape fabric beneath the soil surface as a weed barrier. Moisture collects near the barrier encouraging roots to stay at the surface. Instead use 2 to 3 inches of mulch to discourage weed seeds from growing.