Large red oak with root damage #165415 - Ask Extension


Large red oak with root damage #165415

Asked January 28, 2014, 5:51 PM EST

The cable company dug a hole 10 inches from the crown of a red oak tree that is 70 inches in circumference. The hole was 5 feet feep and cut all roots 180 degrees around the tree. I have filled the hole, and I have begun to apply root stimulator.  Are there other ideas--I do not intend to lose this tree!!

Lubbock County Texas

Expert Response

Concerned tree owner,

Thanks for your question and a big thanks for uploading a picture with it.  Context always helps.  

Making sure the soil stays loose around the damaged root zone and using a little root stimulant should be helpful.  You also need to make sure that your tree stays well irrigated throughout this growing season, especially on the damaged side.  (Please note that "well irrigated" doesn't necessarily mean "saturated."  You don't want your tree standing in a puddle, but should make sure that there is available soil moisture several inches down.) Most trees *generally* move water straight up the trunk, so your water stress will likely be more evident on the side with the damaged roots.  Just make sure that, as the tree is trying to re-establish its root system that there is plenty of available water.

You may also consider thinning the canopy of the tree slightly on that side.  Water is transported and lost (read: used) through the leaves.  More leaf area=more transpiration=higher water usage.  I would caution you, though, not to remove more than 10%-15% of the canopy and to do it soon.  Oak wilt is becoming a more and more pressing concern in the Lubbock area and the danger of your tree contracting oak wilt dramatically increases as we move into spring. 

Finally, I would urge to do two things.  First, document everything you're doing (through pictures) and your tree's progress.  It's always good to have evidence of what's going on in situations like this.  Also, if you're able, it would probably be worth contacting a licensed arborist to evaluate your tree and your site.  Having another set of professional eyes on this situation couldn't hurt, especially given the size and value of your tree.

Good luck, my friend, and I hope this helps!  Please don't hesitate to ask if you need further. 
Vikram Baliga Replied January 29, 2014, 9:02 AM EST

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