Tree Root Health

Tree Work Details

We have a minimum $250/per job- due to the cost of Travel and Time.

If we perform a Tree Inventory for your property- you will be able to accurately use the numbers and tree descriptions we have provided for you to give you a price of what it will be to perform the specific work outlined in the description.

Estimates & Travel Fees

$2/Mile from our Location- You will receive on site a tree inventory (Estimate)

If the work is scheduled, this travel fee will be included with the cost of doing the job. (Within 20 miles of our location)

If you’re just looking for a price without any investment; we encourage you to follow the steps in the section entitled “Estimating Process.” If you follow this method, we do need a few pictures of the trees and measurements to be sure we are giving an accurate price for the work before we can get you scheduled in.

Tree Work Suggestions

We suggest our customers use a rotation between the different services provided in order to give the greatest long term benefits for your trees. If there is a need for something more specific we will let you know while we are performing a tree inventory. If there are issues we notice that requires services we do not provide we will try our best to make recommendations of ISA Certified Arborists in our local area that can help.

We always recommend using ISA Certified Arborists for the best results of any tree work when dealing with your trees success.  We have been trained in the best practices to use and ways to promote your trees to succeed in an urban environment and will do our best to always allow the best possible success.

Tree Work Description

Root Collar Excavation- This service is performed with the use of an airspade gun, which is hooked up to a high pressure air hose. The Root Collar or Flare is found at the base of a tree, where the trunk meets the ground. By using this specialized tool to perform this work, it allows for a better method of removing soil without disrupting the roots. While performing root collar excavation, the goal is to uncover around the base of the tree exposing the root flare which will allow for an ISA Certified Arborist to begin evaluation of the roots health and integrity and what may need to be done to correct it in order to promote better nutrient and water availability to the trees canopy. Often stem girdling roots are exposed while performing this service which girdling will cause severe stress to the tree if not corrected.

Root Aeration- In a grid like manner (3ft x 3ft apart) around the drip line of the tree; holes are punched into the soil using our airspade. Much like aeration for a lawn, root aeration for tree roots go much deeper (Up to 3ft deep) These holes allow the roots of the tree to have better oxygen distribution allowing for the trees roots to grow out wider and deeper. In this method, the holes are simply left open- if the soil is poor, or other nutrients are required. Using the vertical mulching service is a great complement.

Radial Mulching- This service can be performed in connection with root collar excavation which while uncovering the trees root flare, you can continue to air trench out from the trees trunk. The worker then applies mulch or compost to the opened trenches allowing for surface roots to obtain needed nutrients and once again allowing for one to amend where the tree sits rather than try and replace all the dirt.

Vertical Mulching- This service is used in correlation with root aeration, when a property has poor soil composition. Often it is not practical or financially feasible to replace all the soil around a tree, so the most economical method allows one to amend the soil where it is. This is done by adding mulch and or compost into the holes after root aeration has been performed. This keeps the holes open for a longer time and gets the nutrients right to the roots.

Compost- Our compost and mulch come from local sources here in Billings MT, where most of the compost comes with a great blend of gypsum in it. Gypsum will allow for the help of breaking down clay which is very prevalent in this area.

Fertilizer- We use a slow release fertilizer that is specific to your tree and shrubs needs. Applied every other year, this is a great way to get the much needed nutrients to the roots of your trees and shrubs. We use a pressurized deep root gun that puts the fertilizer into the ground around the drip line of the tree. If there appears to be signs of specific nutrient deficiencies in the plants we will recommend a soil analysis report to be completed on the property and will work alongside other experts and determine the best route to go in order to gain optimal plant health.

Begin your Estimating Process

First identify what type of tree you have; above is an estimating chart which allows you to pick from the different options of tree species.

Second, determine what needs your tree has; for example, can you see what might look like rot or a roots wrapping around the base of your tree? Or after looking at some pictures we have provided, are you unable to find the root flare determining that your tree is planted to deep? Or does your tree look stressed and is dying from the top down?  Use the descriptions below to determine which service best describes your needs.

Third, after you have decided what best fits the needs of the tree or trees; follow the chart which will give you a price per diameter (DBH) or per inch unit.

Fourth, take a tape measure out to your tree and measure up 2 feet from the ground. I know (dbh) means diameter at breast height which is 4 feet from the ground but we have found that for us by measuring about knee high it gives us a better number to base a solid estimate on. After you have measured 2 feet up from the ground measure in inches around the trunk of the tree.

And Fifth, Take this number that you found in inches to the chart that is provided above. It has already done the math for you and I; and will give a number that you can than times by to find the price for particular service and species of tree.

Example: Let’s say you have a Maple tree- not really sure what kind but  you know from your neighbor that it is some kind of Maple. So you see that there are roots coming out of the ground and wrapping around the base of the tree and you wonder what it would it cost uncover the dirt around the tree and fix the problem. You find that the tree is 40 inches around at the trunk at about 2 ft up. Using the chart this will look like –

40 inches (Maple Tree) x 7.96 = $318.40 for us to use our air spade and uncover the dirt around the root flare and fix any issues that can have future detriment to the health of the tree.

Girdling Roots



Some quick observations

Root Issues

If your tree is dying from the top down, it is probably caused due to improper planting which can lead to Girdling roots, or it could also be due to hard packed soil. Many trees are being planted in poor quality soil causing root decline, this combined with excess irrigation cause tree roots rapidly decline.

Problems such as basal rot and girdling roots can often emerge when trees are planted incorrectly. We can help correct the stress on your trees by uncovering any hidden issues beneath the soil.

By breaking up the soil when planting trees in poor soil and by adding amendment (Compost), tree vitality will increase and the roots will establish themselves much quicker than if left alone.

In Billings Montana, Moisture levels in the soils are too low to cause wire baskets to simply dissolve over time. We were on a property the other day that was planted 20 years ago, and the crates and metal baskets they came in were still intake. Nothing changed over 20 years. Don’t let landscapers and landscape architects fool you. This property was on the west end of Billings.

If the tree is a Ball and Burlap (b&b) and you’re worried about damaging the root; When you over excavate, even if you cut the basket down to the base of the hole and help the roots  go out, it’s better than just throwing the tree in. Some b&b trees are in their baskets for longer than intended, and therefore need extra care cutting as much of the engulfed basket out as possible.  Baskets will cause stem root girdling and kill the tree as the tree grows. Baskets purpose is intended to transport the tree – not be in the ground.  I’ve heard a lot of excuses about why trees are planted with baskets on, most of them come back to laziness and or ignorance on the contractor’s part. Tree decline won’t be seen for a few years after being planted incorrectly. Most trees can survive on the root system they come in for about 2 to 3 years.

Benefits of Tree Rings and Mulch

Having a mulched bed around your tree has many benefits including water retention in drought situations which we are seeing here in Billings Mt, but over watering only causes further problems. If you have scorched (brown tipped leaves) you should first check your soil saturation.

Mechanical damage from mowing. Trimming, etc can be prevented by installing tree rings.

Natural bark is better than rock beds. Rock beds don’t blow away but don’t offer the benefits of mulch, if there is no other option the trees need to be on a health program which consists of deep root fertilization  and other soil amendments.


Joshua Smith

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