What Are Girdling Roots and What to Do About Them

Girdling roots are a death sentence for most trees. They cause numerous issues that adversely affect the tree’s health and can even kill the tree prematurely. However, many Atlanta residents don’t know what girdling roots are or how to identify them before they spiral out of control.

So, what are girdling roots? Fortunately, the tree experts at Southern Tree Pros are here to teach you about girdling roots and how that negatively affect trees.

Southern Tree Pros is Atlanta’s number one choice for professional tree care and arborist services. Our plant health care professionals will help your property thrive with exceptional tree care that improves their appearance, integrity, and overall quality. If you want premium arborist services in Atlanta, GA, without the premium rates, contact Southern Tree Pros for all your tree care needs.

What Are Girdling Roots

So, what are girdling roots?

Girdling roots wrap around lateral roots and prevent them from absorbing water and essential nutrients. They often form along the surface and can wrap around the tree’s trunk as well as its root system.

Think of girdling roots like a noose. They cut off the flow of essential elements that the tree needs to survive. As girdling roots tighten, the more damage they cause, eventually killing the tree if you don’t take swift action.

Trees in urban environments are more susceptible to girdling roots since they experience factors trees in nature don’t come in contact with. They are often signs of stress and require immediate professional attention. Failing to address girdling roots quickly will worsen the issue and eventually kill the tree.

Causes of Girdling Roots

The most common cause of girdling roots is improper planting. A tree’s network of roots needs immense space to grow correctly. Planting them in small containers or tiny holes will restrict the roots, causing them to wrap around the entire system.

Always plant your trees in large spaces or pots to prevent girdling and ensure healthy growth.

Overly compact soil is another culprit of girdling roots. Like small containers, compact soil hinders root growth and causes them to circle around each other. 

Other causes of girdling roots include:

  • Planting trees too deeply
  • Base damage (typically from lawnmowers and weedwhackers)
  • Planting trees too close to buildings, walkways, and other surfaces/structures

How to Treat Girdling Roots

Reversing girdling roots isn’t easy. However, you can treat them using the various methods below.


Experienced arborists can prune small girdling roots wrapping around a tree’s trunk. Unfortunately, they can’t cut large girdling roots without harming the tree.


Sometimes you can dig up trees affected by girdling roots and replant them in larger spaces. When replanting, ensure the hole is at least two times wider than the root ball. You also don’t want the hole deeper than the tree’s root ball to ensure oxygen can reach the roots efficiently.

If you believe one of your trees suffers from girdling roots, contact a professional arborist right away. They will help you determine the best treatment and nurse the tree back to health once they eliminate the girdling roots.

Contact Southern Tree Pros for Exceptional Arborists in Atlanta, GA

Southern Tree Pros is your source for high-quality arborists in Atlanta, GA. We will help your trees recover from girdling roots and take measures to prevent future issues. Whether you want to remove a rotten tree trunk from your yard or need professional pruning services, Southern Tree Pros is here for you.

Next time you ask yourself, “What are girdling roots?” contact Southern Tree Pros. Give us a call at (770) 841-1684 and schedule your appointment in Atlanta, GA, today!


Southern Tree Pros

Our company provides a range of services that covers everything from small residential tree maintenance jobs to large commercial projects. Our Atlanta tree service staff is fully trained and equipped to meet your needs.

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2743 Orchard Knob Dr Atlanta, GA. 

(770) 841-1684

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