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Aerate and improve soil

aerated soilCompacted soil (see photo) restricts root growth and can lead to unhealthy trees. Several methods are employed to improve soil conditions including vertical trenching, incorporating organic matter, and air or water injection into soil. Vertical trenching cuts trenches like spokes in a wheel from near the trunk toward the edge of the canopy. New topsoil is gently placed, not packed, back into the trenches. Roots grow back into the loose soil added to the trenches. Trenches can be dug with mechanical trenching devices (See: Airspade or Supersonic Air Knife). Mechanical trenching devices damage roots; whereas, the air spade does not damage roots. Do nothing that will injure or cut roots larger than about one inch diameter.

Incorporating organic matter into the top soil layers can loosen compacted soil and can improve soil biology. Organic matter can be incorporated into the soil using an air excavation device. Begin by loosening soil with the Airspade or Supersonci Air Knife. Next, add several inches of well-decomposed organic matter and mix it with loosened site soil using the air tool.

Air and water can be injected into soil using a compressor and hollow soil probe. Some tree companies use this technology for injecting fertilizer into soil. This has been done on dry compacted soil with the intention of creating cracks for air movement. Some horizontal soil cracks form as a result of this treatment but research has yet to show a positive tree response from this treatment.