Take a look outside at your trees. What are they doing? There’s no buds forming, not flowers growing—their brown, bare branches seem to just be creaking in the occasional gust of wind. You may think your trees are hibernating just like the bears who roam our yards in the spring and summer. You may think your trees are dying. You may even think your trees are doing absolutely nothing in the winter, but that’s where you’re wrong.

Winter is a big growing season for trees… well, for their roots that is.

While your tree seems dormant above ground, the underground system of roots is busy at work growing, searching, and retaining nutrients to help get your tree through the winter and to prepare it for the spring. Even though we don’t normally see a tree’s roots, they play an important role in a tree’s life.

Tree Root Facts:

  • Most tree roots are located in the top 6-24 inches of soil
  • A tree’s roots can occupy an area up to four times the diameter of the trunk.
  • Root disease can happen because of soil compaction, change in soil depth, and improper watering
  • Roots don’t grow towards anything like pipes or homes, but instead grow where the minerals and water are

A tree’s roots are a large and complex system that works year round to ensure the survival of the trunk, branches, and leaves up top. Remaining active throughout the winter months allows this vast system of roots to obtain water and other nutrients from the soil. If by chance the roots aren’t located near water or nutrients they will grow and expand their system in order to find some. Trees bulk up on the soil’s nutrients and water during the winter months so they will have enough energy to grow buds for new leaves and flowers in the spring.

Take a look outside at your trees again. Are you seeing them in a different light? Trees are one of nature’s most impressive creations and there’s always something new to learn. If you want to look up some more detailed facts about root activity in the winter, check out this article.