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buried tree
moved into a new home and it appears that several large trees in the back yard have been buried in 2 to 4 feet of dirt. It appears that the house was constructed on a sloping lot-the foundation was filled front to back in order to have it level subsequently causing trees around the house to have dirt filled around them also and then sloping away to the rest of the yard. One large post oak tree, approx 1-1/2ft in dia., is about 2-1/2 ft from house foundation and appears to have probably 2 to 4 feet dirt aound it sloping out from house and down to level of the rest of the yard. My question; will the tree die with the dirt piled around it? how much would need to be removed for it to live? will it live that close to the foundation? if so, will it cause foundation problems? also, will the smaller trees 4inches to 1foot in dia. live with probably a foot of dirst around them? also, how much of the dirt need to be removed-just one or two feet from the tree trunk or a larger area? your answers very appreciated?
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<Wayne Cahilly>
Reply to post by gale, on June 01, 2000 at 12:17:12:

Hi Gale,

Unfortunately the news is not great. Trees develop roots within the soil body at a depth that provides them with water and oxygen in the levels required for the species and individual. The lower the oxygen requirements the more likely the species will survive some filling over the root system. You mention Post Oak. Post Oak is an upland species with a fairly high gas exchange rate between the roots and the atmosphere within the soil body. By adding soil above the established root system a situation is created similar (well, sorta) to putting a bag over your head. Eventually, the build-up of carbon dioxide and reduction in oxygen will take its toll.

My gut feeling is that the trees that are severely buried are probably lost. Removing the soil is as disruptive in many instances as leaving it, but that is better judged by a competant arborist on site; little hard via description. The smaller trees if vigorous may tolerate the removal of soil better than the larger trees. They won't like the disruption but they don't like the fill soil either.

Best to have a competant arborist make an assessment on site. There is a link to the American Society of Consulting Arborists on this page and they are a good place to begin by asking for a list of consulting arborists in your area.

Hope this is some help

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