Problems with a tree or shrubs' roots can cause these plants to decline or even die. If a plant's root structure declines, the problem usually cannot be corrected in time to save the tree or shrub. Root decline can occur rapidly or over a period of weeks or months.

A tree or shrubs' root system needs a good balance of air and water in the soil. In order for healthy growth of the roots, there must be a good exchange between the soil and the atmosphere above the ground. Excess compaction or an overly wet soil causes poor oxygen exchange between the roots. This limits their growth potential. Often, signs of leaf wilt will draw conclusions of a lack of moisture and one will water excessively. This only compounds the problem, reducing the supply of soil oxygen for the roots. This can be corrected by knowing which plants are susceptible to problems from wet or compacted soil. By probing around the plant, it can be learned if the soil conditions are affecting the plant's root growth. Looking for compacted or overly wet soil in and around the trees and shrubs will go a long way in averting this type of damage.

If excess moisture is the problem, divert water away from the plant or reduce watering. Reducing the moisture content in the soil, thus increasing the oxygen in the soil may save the plant. If the plant is severely damaged over a long period of time by these conditions, it may not be possible to save the plant.

Planting trees and shrubs in areas affected by shade decreases the ability of the soil to dry out. Ensure the plant is suited for these shady, wet conditions. Planting trees or shrubs at an improper depth restricts the amount of oxygen the roots can utilize. Changes in landscape can also affect root structure. Paving of new sidewalks can seriously affect the plants roots and cause root decline.

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