How to Aerate Tree Roots: 3 Secret Techniques Revealed!

How to Aerate Tree Roots

Tree leaves absorb carbon dioxide from the environment, but their roots require oxygen to thrive. Or else they start decomposing. And compact soil and reduced air pockets can disrupt the supply of oxygen. Eventually, it can kill your trees. So, before that happens, I will walk you through how to aerate tree roots.

Use a spike or aerator tool to dig holes around the tree to provide proper water, air, and oxygen to the roots. But the most effective one is auger aeration. As it is a little tricky with measurement, I will discuss everything with the necessary details!  

How to Aerate Tree Roots? 

Aerating tree roots does not necessarily mean you will need to deal with the roots. Rather, digging the soil in a proper way to create air–circulation can aerate the roots.

Improved soil conditions help the roots to breathe easily. Let’s check out my handpicked methods for root aeration – 

Method-1: Augar Aeration 

For root or tree aeration, augar is the perfect tool to effectively create holes in the soil that transfer air to the roots. Use this tool if your tree is beyond one year old and has invasive sturdy roots. Because such tree roots need extra effort when it comes to aeration. And here is the process:

How to Aerate Tree Roots

Step 1: Preparation 

Remove debris, dried leaves, and other obstacles around the preferred tree. If you have underground utilities such as power cables and pipes, mark the area by placing colored ribbons. It will prevent you from damaging these structures. 

Water the soil around the tree to make the ground moist. However, avoid overwatering. 

Step 2: Drill Holes

Check whether your auger machine is in working condition or not. Then, place it 3–feet away from the trunk and create several holes in a circle. There should be a 2–feet gap between each hole.

Then, from the first circle of holes, move 2 feet away. And drill a few more holes. Keep creating circles until you are at the drip line. To clarify, the drip line starts where water drips from the outermost branch of the tree.

Step 3: Fill the Holes

Add mulch, topsoil, peat moss, and sand to the holes. But do not firmly press the materials. 

Now, move 6 inches away from the trunk. And add a 3–inches thick layer of wood chips, dried leaves, and straws. Spread the mulch to the last circle of holes. 

It will deconstruct the soil structure so that oxygen and air can penetrate the roots. You may repeat the aeration every 2 to 3 years for better results. 

Method-2: Install Root Aeration Tubes

You should install root aeration tubes near the tree while the plant is still young and tender. These tubes have holes to supply oxygen and air to the roots. And the detailed process is as follows:

How to Aerate Tree Roots
  • Move 3 to 5 feet away from the base of the plant and dig a hole in the soil with a shovel or drill.
  • The width of the dug hole should match the width of the tube.
  • Avoid digging beyond 20 inches deep into the soil. 
  • Then, push the aeration tube into the hole and hammer it gently. 
  • Fill the upper hole of the tube with mulch and soil.
  • Tap some soil around the tube to secure it in its place. 
  • Once the roots reach the tube, the oxygen and air supplied through it help the roots to thrive. 

Method-3: Use Deep Root Aerator 

The deep root aerator can operate manually or by electric power. And this tool can create holes within the root zone to aerate the roots. Note that you should use this method for small trees only. Here are the steps to do that:

How to Aerate Tree Roots
  • Water the soil one hour prior to the aeration.
  • Hold the top of the aerator and place the end tip 3–feet away from the tree base.
  • Push the handle of the tool or power it up to dig holes around the base. The drilled holes should be more than 10 inches deep. And you are all done. 
  • Note that you can use a spike aerator too for the process. But you will need to push the spike harder to create aeration space. 

What Are the Benefits of Aerating Tree Roots? 

Sometimes, fertilizers are not enough to promote your tree’s growth. To bridge the gap, root aeration helps. But what benefits do they serve to the roots and soil?

How to Aerate Tree Roots

Here are they –

  • In urban areas due to pollution, soil air pockets or pores are reduced. And aeration brings the pores back for the roots to breathe easily 
  • Disrupted soil or a weak root system fails to access the microorganisms and nutrients required to thrive. Root aeration creates room to consume the food 
  • For drought-prone trees, aeration improves the water supply. Also, they make the roots drought-resistant.
  • Aerated roots are less susceptible to fungal disease and pest infestation. 
  • It helps the foliage to show vigor for longer times. 
  • Root aeration prevents the leaves from wilting and falling prematurely. 
  • This process keeps the soil in good structure for healthy growth of nearby plants.

This video might help to know more:


A lot of gardeners do not know the way of aerating tree roots when their trees show symptoms of decay. So, they apply chemical solutions on the ground and foliage. I’d highly discourage you from doing so. Because it can worsen the scenario. Also, herbicides can prevent nearby plants from growing. 

Instead, go for root aeration. If you are not up for such manual labor, I would advise booking a professional aeration service!

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q’s):

Is a tree aeration tube effective? 

Root aeration tube works best with young trees. Also, if you use tubes that have several holes around them, they can accommodate and transfer air properly. 

Does root aeration stress the tree?

If you disrupt the roots that are beyond 24 inches deep, it can stress the tree. However, aerating the roots while the tree is inactive during spring does not affect the tree. 

How to choose the best root aeration tube? 

Aeration tubes should be long-lasting enough to maintain root air circulation for longer. Hence, choose tubes made of PVC material which is durable and sturdy.

Md Biajid

Meet Mia Biajid, a passionate nature lover. Particularly, he has a deep-rooted connection to the plant. Mia loves to spend time exploring forests and uncovering the secrets held within trees. He always inspires others to appreciate and protect our precious part of the ecosystem.

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