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Top-most root should be near the surface

  1. Planting too deeply reduces air exchange between soil and air. The result can be roots starve for oxygen.
  2. Planting deeply can trap too much moisture in the root ball, especially if the soil is poorly drained.
  3. Deep planting can lead to the root ball drying out. This occurs because the soil and mulch placed over the root ball holds some of the water applied over the root ball.
  4. Deep planting also can encourage development of stem-girdling roots which can kill trees (See: stem girdling roots). These roots may develop because the loose soil spread over the root ball is very suitable for root growth. Research is needed to confirm this but clinical evidence suggests this to be the case. On many planting sites, this can be the best soil on the site so it is not surprising that roots grow well here. Research in Minnesota (Johnson and Johnson, 2001) showed that many affected trees don't show symptoms or fail until 12 to 20 years after planting.

Locate the root flare: It is best when the root flare (root crown, trunk flare) is visible at the surface. The place where the top-most root originates from the trunk will be just below this point.

root flare
root flare