University of Florida

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Root manipulation: pruning when shifting

maple tree

Here is a finished #3 container maple with nearly a 1/4" diameter root clearly visible on the outside edge of the rootball and many other smaller roots. These should be removed before planting the tree into a larger container or into the ground.

maple roots on outer edge of root ball

Here is the same tree with all roots on the outside edge of the root ball being removed with a shovel. This shaving or peeling the root ball edge removes a large percentage of root defects including circling and diving roots present at the periphery of the root ball. This process does not remove defects on the interior of the root system.

outer edge of root ball removed

The periphery (edge) of the root ball has been completely removed and is laying on the ground.

shaved root ball is smaller

The shaved root ball (right) is smaller in diameter than a root ball that has not been pruned (left). We have tested this technique on red maple, live oak, lysiloma, royal poinciana, gumbo limbo, mahogany and tabebuia, and have not killed any trees with this treatment (See: Research abstract).