Why is Air Spading So Important?


Air spading is the process of using high-pressure air to remove soil from the area around the base of a tree without damaging the roots beneath. We air spade to expose the root system to see if any issues may be causing the tree to be in poor health or undergrown. Tree roots need the proper combination of water and oxygen to help them grow properly and promote health and maturity. If the tree was planted too deep, the soil has been compacted, the hole was not dug wide enough or the trunk has been covered by landscape beds/rocks then there is a good chance the tree roots are not able to extend out and may be girdled. When a tree’s roots girdle it will cause a slow death by “strangling” itself as the roots circle and overlap each other and wrap around the base of the tree.

These Mexican Sycamores were planted incorrectly, with numerous errors and the result was shocking. Once we cleared away the soil we found that the trees had all grown new roots above the flare roots, which are about 10 inches below grade and not easily visible. So sad…

This Live oak to the left was planted in the early 2000s and is much smaller than it should be. When we excavated the root system (below) we found that it was planted slightly below grade, which was just enough to cause the roots to girdle. We were able to do some root surgery and continue to monitor its progression.

This tree had not shown much growth and when excavated we found it was still in the basket which cause the roots to girdle and never establish in the ground.

When you see poor growth above ground expect the same underground. Let us expose the problem and correct it before it is too late.


Radial trenching is done to aerate compacted soil to allow oxygen back to the root system. Fertilizers or beneficial nutrients can be added to help restore tree health.

This Deodar Cedar was the beneficiary of radial trenching.

Another rescue from bad landscape design

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