As your trees kick it into high gear this growing season, we want to make sure that they have the tools they need to be healthy, stable and safe. To do this, we need to start from the ground up!

Healthy roots are the key to healthy and structurally sound trees.

Roots need 3 things to be strong and healthy: Oxygen, Water, and Nutrients.

How do we make sure our roots have access to these 3 things? Make sure your soil is properly equipped!

1. Oxygen

City soils are often very compacted. Foot traffic, road traffic and development all contribute to this soil compaction.

When soils are too compact, there are no pockets of oxygen for your roots to access, which can cause your tree roots to actually suffocate!

How do we make sure there are oxygen pockets in the soil?

With soil remediation and vertical mulching.

We use compressed air to make columns in the soil to create pockets of air. From here, we loosely backfill the columns with a custom compost and Biochar to add additional nutrients to the soil and prevent re-compaction. We can also install a soil aeration tube which creates a permeable space for oxygen and important gas exchange within the soil.

2. Water

Compacted soils can also lead to water run-off, instead of allowing it to soak into the soil and reach the root system. Also, with the extreme fluctuations of weather we’ve seen over the past few years due to climate change, our summers have become hotter and drier leading to drought conditions for our urban trees.

How can we make sure your tree roots are getting enough water?

Soil aeration tubes can help with this! These tubes are perforated and allow water to reach below the surface of the soil and get right into the tree’s root zone.

Another method is utilizing storm water by redirecting your downspouts towards the root zone of the tree or installing dry wells connected to your downspouts for better storm water retention that can then be used to allow water access to your root zone.

We can also do a treatment of our ArborGain™ biostimulant and soil conditioner. One of its many beneficial ingredients is Yucca. Yucca is a desert plant that thrives even in the driest conditions. The yucca in the ArborGain™ increases your trees’ water uptake ability and makes it more drought-resistant.

3. Nutrients

The third ingredient that your tree roots need to thrive is nutrients. Healthy soils are rich in microorganisms and have an active soil biology. Often, Toronto’s soils are nutrient-depleted and require assistance to help recreate soil biology that is closer to that of a forest floor.

How do we increase the nutrient content and improve the soil biology on your property?

We use a 3-pronged approach when it comes to adding nutrients to your soil and stimulating soil biology.

  1. Macro-nutrient fertilizers. Our fertilizers use a combination of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. These are the 3 main macronutrients your tree needs to thrive.

  2. ArborGain™ soil conditioner and biostimulant. Along with its water-retaining yucca, ArborGain™ contains humic acid, which optimizes the nutrient supply of the plant and helps with plant growth. It also contains sea kelp, which is full of macro and micro nutrients and helps boost your plant’s immune system, active bacteria to increase microbial activity in the soil, and blackstrap molasses to act as food for the microorganisms in the soil.
    All of these ingredients combine to create a soil system that is optimized for your tree’s health and success.

  3. Mycorrhizae. Mycorrhizae is a fungus that forms a symbiotic relationship with your tree’s roots – it allows your roots to have better access to water and nutrients by increasing their root surface area and reaching areas the roots would be too small to get to on their own. In turn, the mycorrhizae takes in the excess sugars that the tree produces during photosynthesis, allowing it to stay alive underground.

By focusing on the soil around your trees, you can ensure a strong and stable root system. This is essential to keeping your trees healthy and safe. By being proactive with your root health now, you can prevent future tree failures!


Call your arborist today to see how we can boost your roots!


Be good to your trees.


Kristie Nairn, MA, MMst
Cohen & Master Tree and Shrub Services Ltd.