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Did You Know Tree Roots Prevent Soil Erosion

Beyond what meets the eye, trees have roots that extend from the canopy of a tree into the group. Some of the roots grow directly under the tree, but a vast majority of the roots extend laterally. Under healthy soil conditions, tree roots can grow more than twenty feet deep.

The tree roots start as thick stems that stabilize the tree while also storing water and carbohydrates. Then these larger stems branch into smaller fine filaments to grow around the tree and stabilize the soil. These smaller roots make up a majority of the tree-root system.

The tree roots prevent soil erosion because they keep the soil strong and binded to the land. Solid soil reacts better to environmental circumstances such as heavy downpour and winds.

Did You Know Tree Roots Prevent Soil Erosion

If you have eroding soil in your area, consider planting a tree to help bring your soil back to life. You can find a professional arborist at Mr. Tree for tree planting services.

Growing a tree may take time and professional maintenance, but it will help prevent soil erosion and the issues that can emerge from this occurrence.

What is Soil Erosion?

Soil erosion is the detachment, movement, and deposition of soil. This can happen at a slow rate, which would gradually cause a loss of topsoil without any attention drawn to it.

Topsoil, which is made up of countless microorganisms, is high in soil life and fertility. During soil erosion, topsoil loosens and is carried elsewhere where it will build up over time and fill in drainage channels. This can reduce cropland productivity and contribute to pollution. Topsoil that is washed away into rivers, streams, and lakes leads to contamination from the soil’s fertilizers and pesticides.

In areas with a depletion of trees and vegetation, soil particles are more likely to get lifted and transported by rain, water, and wind. Bare soil—soil not sheltered by plant life or vegetation—is most prone to environmental circumstances such as downpour.

When it rains, the material bonding of the soil loosens. If there are no tree roots present for the soil to cling onto, the soil will run off. This eventually leads to downstream flooding, especially where there are no plants or vegetation to help absorb the water. The floods run and take the soil with it, only to perpetuate soil erosion even further. Thus, large events of precipitation can result in the soil being washed away.

Wind erosion moves soil via wind power. It can dry out the soil and reduce nutrients in the land. It is more common in desert areas and has serious costly effects on the environment, economy, and human health. The canopy of a tree and other vegetation planted in the area can reduce the wind speed to prevent excessive damage. Having more vegetation and tree root structures available keeps the soil strong.

Erosion can be unpredictable, so the ecosystem needs to be prepared to survive these circumstances.

Tree Roots Improve Soil

Trees hold soil in place by housing it from wind and water. Vegetation absorbs energy so it lessens the impact when precipitation hits the ground. However, the tree roots are what stabilize the soil and tie the soil layers together to prevent soil displacement. They hold the soil in position to prevent it from being blown or washed away.

Tree roots also positively affect the soil structure because root growth breaks up soil to create space for air and water, which improves aeration and drainage.  

Nutrients are added to the soil from the tree roots. Roots from some trees add nitrogen to the soil through a process called nitrogen fixation. This is when nitrogen in the atmosphere assimilates into organic compounds. Trees convert nitrogen into a form that plants nutrients to help trees live a healthy life.

After a tree dies or is cut down, the roots still hold their place for a couple of years to help keep the surrounding soil in place.

Sloping Land

With every slope, you will find different vegetation abundantly planted. This is because vegetation and tree roots bind the soil to the slopes.

Roots provide what is called a mechanical stabilization in slopes. Mechanical stability is the structured strength or stiffness that affects the way something performs.

Tree roots provide mechanical stability on slopes because of the roots’ bending stiffness and frictional properties. Fibrous tree roots hold the soil to keep the tree in place.

Soil erosion on slopes can be frightening for homes and businesses because erosion on a hillside can result in mudslides.

To avoid this situation, trees need to be specially maintained on a slope. An option for water maintenance is to create a drip or micro-spray irrigation that delivers water back to a tree rather than let it flow away.

A healthy tree represents healthy soil. Tree roots turn soil into a type of reinforced dirt to prevent soil erosion. They help prepare for natural circumstances such as wind, water, and floods. 

The more trees that are planted together, the stronger the soil they sit on will be. However, tree roots can spread wide, so keep that in mind when planting.

It is important to reach out to a professional to help you strategize the spacing of your trees. The wide growth of the tree roots can be unpredictable depending on the circumstances and an arborist will help determine the root protection zone for optimal tree growth.

You can reach out to a professional tree service center such as Mr. Tree to see how you can better prevent soil erosion near your home. These certified professionals are available to help preserve the health of your tree to keep your soil strong and erosion from occurring.