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NPR recently wrote a story on how scientists have discovered that trees grow faster the older they get.  Not surprisingly, they also absorb more carbon as they age. What do you think happens to roots as trees age? Does root volume grow at the same rate as trees age or does it increase, does it decrease?  What do you think happens? We do not have the answer but are curious what your opinion or experience is.

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  • Great recommendation Jim.  Thank you.  For more on the NPR story go to

  • I must become acquainted with this NPR story.  The research heretofore has said that trees slow down as they age.  There is less "pressure" to push nutrients up into the far branches, etc.  I am not a scientist, just a humble arborist.

    As for pragmatic concerns, I hold to the idea of impacting a tree as little as possible beneath its canopy and between the drip line and the trunk,if one wishes to preserve the tree.  A tree can take a little abuse/loss of root on one side, usually.

    I suggest "Reducing Infrastrutcure Damage by Tree Roots: A Compendium of Strategies" by Costello and Jones.n

  • Thanks Bruce, will do. I am curious about this because Tree Ordinances often protect the critical root zone which is based on DBH.  As a result a large 50 tree can have a critical root zone of 8K square feet. I just wonder if these large trees store more water in their xylem and start retracting their root growth, similar to how they drop branches as they get older. Not that I want to reduce root zones, it is that I have worked with some very large trees and we impacted more than 50% of CRZ as calculated above and 15 years later they are still here, so maybe we are doing a disservice to requiring such large CRZ and then ultimately the tree is removed because it is impossible not to impact more than a third of it on a small lot. 

  • 3 reknowned tree root researchers may have found some information related to the question.  Dig into (ha - pun intended) some of Ed Gilman (FL), Tom Perry 9NC), or Gary Watson, Morton Arboretum research work.

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