Overstory #209 - Soil Compaction & Trees
The health and structure of trees are reflections of soil health. The ecological processes which govern tree survival and growth are concentrated around the soilroot interface. As soils, and associated resources change, tree systems must change to effectively utilize and tolerate changing resources quantities and qualities, as well as the physical space available. Soil compaction is a major tree-limiting feature of community forest managers and arborists.
Soil compaction is the most prevalent of all soil constraints on shade and street tree growth. Every place where humans and machines exist, and the infrastructures that support them are built, soil compaction will be present. There are few soil areas without some form or extent of soil compaction. Soil compaction is a fact of life for trees and tree managers. Unfortunately, prevention and correction procedures are not readily used nor recognized for their value.
This paper is a summary of soil compaction processes and tree growth effects. In addition, some general renovation principles are proposed. Understanding how soil compaction occurs, developing more accurate and precise definitions of soil compaction effects, and recognizing tree growth effects stemming from compaction problems will be the primary emphasis here. This paper will concentrate entirely on the negative growth constraints of compaction.