Every year, millions of urban trees die prematurely or are removed due to infrastructure damage and/or public safety concerns caused by poorly managed roots. This problem is largely a result of improper planting techniques, and although specific causes vary, there are some particular issues that account for the majority of issues – one of which is dysfunctional root systems.
It’s an undeniable fact that we need trees in our cities. But preventing tree roots from interfering with utilities and other infrastructure is a major ongoing issue.
Conflicts between tree root growth and paved surfaces are constraining the development of healthy and productive trees in our cities. Millions of dollars each year are spent on pavement repair and damage mitigation, that could rather be spent improving tree health.
These conflicts also reflect a downsizing of urban tree canopy and the loss of benefits associated with diminishing urban forests. So why do the roots of urban trees become so problematic, and what are dysfunctional root systems doing to the health of trees?