Soil Compaction - Solutions and Advice

28 October 2016
 Categories: , Blog

A common problem that can affect trees of any species is dehydration.  But you water your precious trees regularly, especially in very warm spells of weather, so how could they be dehydrated?  Well, soil compaction could be your problem.  Here's how to treat and prevent soil compaction.

What causes soil compaction?

Each time you walk around your trees or push your lawn mower over the grass beneath them, you risk causing soil compaction.  It's actually the weight of objects moving or being placed on the soil and pushing the particles together that causes the problem. 

Compacted soil makes it difficult for water to find its way to the tree's roots.  Instead, it tends to just run away, leaving the tree dehydrated.  Water also carries nutrients from the soil with it down to the roots and soil compaction can also cause your tree to suffer poor health and retarded growth.

tree services contractor can point out areas of soil compaction that are causing problems for your trees, but there's a simple test that you can do yourself.  All you need to do is take a screwdriver and push it down into the soil, near to the tree's roots.  If the screwdriver is really hard to push down, the soil is probably compacted.  If you're still not sure, take a knife and cut out a small chunk of soil.  Compacted soil will appear grey, dull and very dry.  

How to repair and prevent compacted soil

You can usually fix compacted soil quite easily.  First of all, you'll need to fork some good-quality compost into the top 20cm or so of the soil, around the roots.  You then need to add a ring of mulch right around the tree on top of the composted soil.  Add a few handfuls of earthworms to the mulch.  The worms are important as a compaction prevention strategy because they eat their way through the soil, creating tunnels and naturally aerating the soil and breaking it up.

If the soil is too compacted to get your screwdriver into it, you might need to ask your tree services company to deal with the problem for you by drilling into the soil and carrying out vertical mulching.

If your trees are surrounded by compacted soil, you can resolve the problem by following the guidelines above.  For more advice and information on how to keep your trees healthy and properly hydrated, have a chat with your local tree services company.