Ailing Tree In Your Portland Yard? Try Our Root Zone Enhancement Treatment

Serving Families Throughout Portland & the Pacific Northwest

Trees are valuable for many reasons.  They’re beautiful, increase property value and most importantly, play a critical role in our environment.  For all these reasons, you want to keep the trees in your Portland area yard healthy as they cannot easily be replaced.

If one dies, any tree planted in its place will be much smaller and will take years before it grows to the size of the one removed. General Tree Service wants to help keep your trees growing healthy and strong so you can enjoy them for years to come.

Of course, trees occasionally need our help because environmental conditions can’t always be perfect and that’s where our Root Zone Enhancement (RZE, for short) treatment can help.

RZE is part of our holistic approach to tree health as it focuses on restoring ideal growing conditions for the root mass, which is essential to the tree’s health.

When is a Root Zone Enhancement beneficial?

Do you have a mature tree that didn’t get as many leaves this year and the leaf size is smaller?  Below we’ve listed many situations where our Root Zone Enhancement (RZE) can be helpful.

  • Aging tree in declining health
  • Promote growth in younger trees
  • Invigorate recovery of a damaged tree
  • Help establish newly planted trees
  • Alleviate compacted soil
  • Buried crown or grade changes
  • Girdling roots are present


The root mass is the tree’s delivery system for water and nutrients and therefore, vital for its continued growth.  It helps if you think of the roots as straws that draw up all the water/nutrients needed and distributes them throughout the entire tree.

If there’s a problem with the system (girdling roots, for example) and the straws are restricted, they can no longer soak up water and nutrients and you can’t have a healthy tree if it’s not getting the water and nutrients it needs.  Of course, that’s just one example; we already cited many others in the above list.


The purpose of RZE is to restore the ideal growing conditions found in nature, which can be quite different than the ones found in your Portland area yard.  For instance, soil can become damaged from many years of repeated lawn and landscape management/applications, none of which naturally occur in the forest.  It’s easy to see why some of our urban practices can be harmful to our trees and other living things.

In order for root growth to flourish, the soil conditions in your yard must be right to promote growth and here’s reasons why it may not be.

  • Compacted soil
  • Continued lawn management practices
  • Lack of organic matter and nutrients (in soil)
  • Low levels of mycorrhizae

Our Root Zone Enhancement process counteracts many of the above factors by supplementing the soil with amendments (a prescription of compost, biochar, General Tree’s special blend of fertilizer and mycorrhizae) while de-compacting the soil.

Complete RZE treatment process

The RZE process starts with a site evaluation by one of our arborists to identify factors for the tree’s poor performance, such as problematic soil conditions (soil analysis may be done), small leaf size, crown dieback, lack of root flair, etc.  Once done, we’ll recommend a program based on the root zone available to treat consisting of the following steps.

Special note:  For best success, we ask that you thoroughly water the area 2 days before the procedure to saturate the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches.  No watering the day before will allow excess water to drain and leave the soil in perfect working condition for us.

Step 1

We mark the area around the tree to be worked.  We’ll talk with you about your preferences and take into account aesthetics and the location of nearly obstacles, such as sidewalks, fences, shrubs or plants, etc.

Step 2

The targeted area will be tilled with an air spade to de-compact the soil and expose the root mass for examination.  The air spade uses only air to move the soil so there’s never a worry about cutting or hurting any underground cables or roots from the tree.

Step 3

With the root mass exposed, we can see if there’s any girdling roots that are preventing the tree from absorbing water and nutrients. If there are, root pruning will be done by an arborist to remove them so the remaining roots will be able to better deliver water/nutrients to all parts of the tree.

Step 4

The air spade is used to mix amendments into the soil around the root mass.  The exact mixture depends on the makeup of your existing soil so your prescription of amendments may consist of compost, biochar, mycorrhizae and General Tree Service’s special blend of fertilizer. The goal is to restore the fertile soil conditions found in nature and once done, the area is covered with mulch.

Post treatment watering is crucial

It’s very important that the homeowner thoroughly water the tree for several days after the treatment and on a weekly basis after that, especially if it’s hot and dry.   Watering the area will help all the rich nutrients (from the amendments) to soak down into the roots.

The first couple of years after the RZE treatment, your tree should respond to the de-compacted biologically-active fertile soil by growing fine feeder roots to better absorb the rich nutrients and water.


Since the soil was  de-compacted, you’ll notice that the area absorbs water better after the RZE treatment.  You may not see much difference in the tree until the next growing cycle (usually in the spring) when the leaves pop out and the crown will be fuller.

Results vary widely and largely depend on the state of your tree before the process.  If your tree was already showing signs of decline, improvement may take longer but don’t be discouraged.  Trees are resilient and the RZE process is meant to relieve stress on the root system so it can start functioning more efficiently, which aids in its recovery.

If you have a tree you’re concerned about, contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our arborists to see if a Root Zone Enhancement would be beneficial.

The post Ailing Tree In Your Portland Yard? Try Our Root Zone Enhancement Treatment appeared first on General Tree Service.

Share To: