Gilman, E.F., C. Harchick, and M. Paz
Root ball shaving improves root systems on seven tree species in containers

Journal of Environmental Horticulture 28 (1): 13-18.


Established forest trees planted from small containers are less stable at the point where roots fork, bend or branch as a result of deflection by container wall, but less is known about the post-transplant impact of root deflections resulting from growing trees in large containers. We either root pruned by shaving off the periphery of the #3 container root ball as it was planted into the #15 container or did not root prune on 5 tropical and 2 temperate tree species. Shaving removed the entire outer and bottom 2.5 cm (1 in) of the root ball and reduced or eliminated culls on all seven species. Shaving did not affect trunk caliper or tree height on the seven species tested under the conditions of this study. The largest diameter roots on trees in #15 containers that were not root pruned when shifted from #3 containers were kinked, descended down the container wall, or circled at the position of the #3 container. These root defects were largely missing on trees with root balls that were shaved of peripheral roots when shifted into #15 containers. The largest roots on shaved trees grew more-or-less straight radially from the trunk. Shaving the root ball periphery and bottom is recommended to improve root ball quality by reducing root ball defects.

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