Tree Preservation, Root Health Care,

Elder and Historic Tree Care

Tree roots are the foundation of healthy trees.

landscape-man-drawing-Tree-with-rootsMany trees are planted too deep or are buried in mulch. Soils are compacted. Roots are girdling. Before anything else is done, we need to care for your tree’s roots. Our Basal Tilling, Vertical Mulching, and Root Collar Excavation services allow us to safely till the soil around the base of your tree, till in organic matter and biochar, and make a better, more forest-like, soil for your tree to thrive in. We can also investigate and correct the tree planting depth and correct any girdling root problems.

Elder and Historic Tree Care

Elder and historic trees are extremely valuable but they need specialized, ongoing care in order to be maintained properly. Arbor Doctor recommends and provides the following measures for the care of your valuable elder and historic trees:

Elder and historic tree care is an ongoing process. It is not one and done. However, elder and historic trees cannot be replaced in our lifetime. They increase in biomass faster on an annual basis than younger trees and contribute far more to property values, the environment, and ecosystems. They are worth the investment.

Image may contain: tree, sky, plant, outdoor and nature
Ron oversaw the retrenchment pruning of this large pin oak in northern Kentucky.

Image may contain: tree, sky, plant, outdoor and natureA 15% reduction in canopy can lead to a 50% reduction in canopy wind resistant and resultant sway forces. Retrenchment pruning is not topping. Cuts are 4 inches or less at growing points.

Biochar: A Game-Changer for Soils 

By Dave Story in The Landscape Contractor

Everything old is new again. That certainly holds true for biochar, a type of charcoal first produced and used in the Amazon basin centuries ago to make agricultural land more fertile. Biochar results from heating plant waste, or biomass, at high temperatures in little or no oxygen. The process, called pyrolysis, also takes place in naturally occurring fires resulting from lightning strikes. Not only does biochar help soils retain nutrients and moisture, but it remains effective in the soil for hundreds of years – all of which means it can help you better and more efficiently protect the health of your clients’ landscapes. Read more here>>>

In the forest, tree root flares are near the surface.

Roots radiate out from the trunk like spokes on a wagon wheel. Roots grow in soils with active biology, including beneficial fungi, bacteria, and earthworms. This healthy organic structure is essential for good tree health. Many of these beneficial microorganisms actually replace or repel harmful microorganisms.

Tree roots need to breathe.

20130207_treeplantingYears of construction, foot traffic, mowing, and lack of soil biology all conspire to suffocate roots. Arbor Doctor solutions help to bring back the good soil structure, good soil biology, and soil oxygen necessary for healthy roots and healthy trees. In our landscapes, tree root flares are often buried. Mulch is piled too high. Soil is compact. Lawns out-compete tree roots. Root systems are less vigorous and less healthy. More information:


Arbor Doctor’s air knife allows us to:

  • Loosen compacted soils.
  • Incorporate soil carbon and compost as a basis for restoring soil structure and soil biology.
  • Remove excess soil from the root flare.
  • Restore the root flare to the proper depth greatly improving long-term viability.
  • Correct root defects such as circling and girdling roots (correction options can be problematic. Some defects are “inoperable”!).
  • Enlarge mulch zones around trees. While deep mulch is quite harmful, wider mulch rings are essential to good tree health.



See more in this video produced by our friends and partners at Organic Air in Norwalk, Ohio.

Construction has great impacts on trees, short and long term. See more in this great video from California arborist Blair Glenn:

Many of the defects and depth issues which affect trees amount to built in obsolescence. Tree susceptibility to insects and diseases is most often the result of poor root system health and poor soil structure and biology. The restoration of your tree’s root system to a condition as near as possible to that found in nature is extremely important for a tree’s long term success. Don’t wait any longer, take this opportunity to schedule a landscape evaluation now. You can use our easy to use online booking calendar right now. Fill in your information select the day that is convenient for you then press send. Our courteous staff will contact you and confirm your appointment.

Compacted Soils and the solution!

Compacted soils are the most harmful environmental condition that a tree or shrub can experience. There are other environmental problems such as drought, cold temperatures, and poor drainage, all of which can all be overcome by appropriate plant selection.

IMG_13922-e1425398515890-225x300The most effective treatments for compaction has been vertical mulching and basal tilling with a tool called an air knife. Because the Air Knife uses high-pressure air, and doesn’t damage roots, Arbor Doctor can treat compacted soils without stressing trees or shrubs. More Details here.

What is compacted soils?

Healthy soil is composed of pore spaces, and organic matter and mineral particles such as sand, silt and clay. Pore space provides room for air and water to circulate around the mineral particles, providing a healthy environment for plant roots and beneficial microorganisms. In compacted soils, the particles are pressed together so tightly that the space for air and water is greatly reduced.

So what is the problem?

Very dense and compressed soil makes it difficult for plants to grow properly. Roots cannot penetrate the compacted soil to obtain the nutrients, water, and structural support they require for survival. Lack of pore space results into the lack of drainage. When the soil is saturated with water, there is no room for oxygen, inhibiting plant growth. The lack of oxygen also inhibits organisms that decompose organic matter, an essential process for recycling nutrients and aerating the soil. Compaction prevents water from percolating properly through the soil, forcing it to run off the surface causing erosion.

What is the Arbor Doctor solution?

Our Basal Tilling and Root Collar Excavation service allows us to safely till the soil around the base of your tree, till in organic matter and biochar, and make a better more forest-like soil for your tree to thrive in. In Basal Tilling we till the soil in a radius around the tree using high pressure air which does not harm the roots. Root collar excavation is a more in depth look at the tree’s trunk flare to inspect for and remove trunk girdling roots and look for hidden signs of stress or decay.

What can you do to avoid and repair compacted soils?

  • Avoid working soils when they are wet. Digging or tilling is not recommended in soil that holds its shape when pressed into a ball, as very moist soils are the easiest to compact. When building, choose the smallest piece of equipment that can accomplish the task at hand over an acceptable time period, and restrict the use of that equipment to the footprint of the building area. The heavier the equipment, the more serious the resulting compaction; the wider the equipment, the greater the area that is affected.
  • Freeze-thaw cycles can help alleviate shallowly compacted soils, though these natural processes are generally not adequate where compaction was caused by heavy equipment.
  • Mildly compacted soils can be overcome by proper plant choice, especially in wet areas.
  • Cover bare soils with mulch or groundcovers. Bare soils form a thin surface crust that prevents water from penetrating the soil. A layer of plants or 2-3 inches of mulch will help prevent this type of compaction from occurring.
  • Amend the soil. Adding compost to your soil is one of the best ways to combat compaction. As organic materials decompose, they attract soil organisms that naturally aerate the soil through creation of pore space.
  • Contact Arbor Doctor now to schedule your landscape evaluation and find out more about how we can remedy your compacted soil issues.  Please note that some visits have a cost associated with them.  Landscape evaluation charges are credited 100% if we perform a service for you