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Understanding Soil and Trees


Soil is alive! What does that mean? Living things are by-products of soil. Some living things also occupy soil. Soil is a cycle of life that delivers nutrients to trees and other plants. Urban soil is not the same as forest soil. Urban soil is dug up and mixed up. It is compacted by equipment, and it is a poor soil environment physically and chemically. This causes stress on urban trees. Many times soil is dense and made of clay, like we have in Asheville. As an arborist, we create pore space for air to be able to sit in the soil. The texture of the soil is what it is made up of, such as clay, silt, and sand. The structure of the soil is how it lays together. Soil needs macro-core space for soil to allow airflow. In addition, we add amendments to the soil as a way of adding micro-core space.

The lack of oxygen in the soil is what causes stress on a tree and may cause it to fail. Things we do as arborists are to amend the soil as follows. We can physically alter the soil by using an air spade. At that time, we also add amendments. These include biochar, sand, and fungal Micro Rizal inoculants. In addition, we use compost teas and liquid fertilizer to feed the soil. The more we create living soil, the more it will support itself. Chemical fertilizers are only a short-term fix. Another way to support tree health is to put down 3 inches of organic mulch, double ground, and hardwood. We do this up to the drip line of the tree.

Forest soils are layered, originating far below. The closer to the surface you get, the more it can sustain life. It is in a relationship with roots, earthworms, and fungi. All of this improves physical soil structure.

Plant health care can aid urban trees to fare better with the stress of poor soil. Call Asheville Arborists for your urban forest tree care needs.

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