Tree Root Rot Treatment, Causes, Diagnosis & Prevention

Root rot is a tree disease caused by excessively wet soil around the roots of a tree. While some plant and tree species are tolerant to damp trees, most native hardwoods and West Houston area trees are not tolerant to our gumbo-like soil. Decomposing roots can cause devastating results, easily cutting the tree’s lifespan in half or more because they attract pests and fungus to an already malnourished tree.

If you suspect one of your trees could be ill with root rot in Katy, Fulshear, or Cypress, Texas call Cody’s Tree Service, Inc. at (281) 391-3450 to request a professional Arborist Consultation.

Treating Root Rot

One of the more obvious root rot treatments is to improve soil drainage and aeration around the tree’s roots. Once proper soil drainage is installed, inject the tree with fertilizer to boost its immunity and longevity. Spray fertilization can also be administered on the surface of the tree’s trunk, branches, and leaves.

It’s also important to ensure the tree has enough sunlight by moving any obstructions or pruning adjacent trees and shrubs.

If any pests or fungus are present, spot-treat the tree with pesticide or organic pest treatments.

Root pruning a tree affected by root rot in the early days of infection can prevent further degradation and stop it from spreading to other roots.

root rot treatment diagnosis identification prevention
Fungus Conks Growing on Tree with Advanced Root Rot Disease

What Causes Root Rot?

Root rot can be caused by over watering, poor soil conditions, ineffective drainage systems, and pest or fungus infestations. Sometimes a slow leaking irrigation pipe or buried sprinkler head are the culprit, but often homeowners fail to follow the watering schedule instructions given at the time the tree was installed. Please, follow the instructions the tree company gave you when you had the tree planted or call a professional Arborist and request a professional assessment.

The clay-heavy soil we have here in East Texas can easily become waterlogged unlike soil in the hill country that has a sandier composition. Excessive moisture surrounding underground roots chokes out the oxygen the tree desperately needs to survive.

Many types of fungus can cause root rot, including phytophthora, pythium, fusarium, rhizoctonia, and armillaria, aka shoestring rot. The most destructive and widely known fungal disease in Texas is phymatotrichum omnivorum, also known as Texas root rot.

If there are fungus conks growing at the base of the tree or on the tree trunk near the ground the tree, unfortunately the tree cannot be saved.

Identification & Diagnosis

Because roots grow below ground it can be difficult to recognize signs of root rot. Many symptoms of decaying roots mimic those of a pest infestation. Sadly when a sick tree is misdiagnosed and administered pesticides it can cause an even faster demise.

  • Above Ground Signs of Root Rot
  • Yellowing or brown leaves
  • Failure to thrive or grow
  • Thin canopy and small branches
  • Fungus cankers and sunken tree trunk bark
  • Declining health for seemingly no reason

If you suspect root rot contact your local Certified Arborist. They will use a tool to carefully extract and examine underground roots to determine the disease and prognosis. Don’t DIY a tree diagnosis, you can cause further harm to an already sick tree.

Preventing Root Rot

Even with our dense clay soil root rot is preventable. Many factors should be considered and planned before planting a tree in your yard.

Choosing the right location is important, because each tree species has unique sunlight, nutritional, and soil condition needs.

It’s important to test the soil before installing a tree because it might be necessary to lay down a layer of sand and/or rock below ground to promote ample drainage and aeration. While proper mulching around a tree is important it may not be necessary around some trees if the soil tends to hold high levels of moisture already.

Installing a drainage moat around the circumference of a tree is also an effective way of preventing water logged roots and soil. The moat should 3 to four feet around the tree trunk with the elevation decreasing outward to pool water away from the base.

Notice Fungus on Your Tree?

If you observe any symptoms of root rot in the Katy or Fulshear, Texas area call (281) 391-3450 to request a professional Arborist consultation. The ISA Certified Arborists at Cody’s Tree Service, Inc. can assess the tree health and provide recommendations for disease treatment or, in some cases, cutting down and removing the tree. Our experience tree doctors have more than 25 years of experience diagnosing, treating, and saving trees. Unfortunately, not every tree can be saved. But we’ll do everything we can to try.

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