Up to 80% of urban tree problems originate below ground. Urban environments must provide the same essential soil resources as natural environments if trees are to maintain a healthy balance between the crown and root system. By understanding what soil resources trees need, we can manage the urban environment to optimize the soil environment for better root growth. The management challenge is to provide an urban soil environment that functions like the natural environment, though its appearance may be quite different.
The Morton Arboretum
As Head of Research at The Morton Arboretum, Dr. Gary Watson leads the work of the Arboretum’s research staff. As a researcher, his central interest is in urban tree roots—understanding how to keep trees healthy in urban landscapes by maintaining a healthy balance between the crown and the root system.
Gary is the author of numerous technical articles on urban tree root system management, tree planting, tree care, and urban forestry and co-author of The Practical Science of Planting Trees (International Society of Arboriculture, 2013). He is editor in chief of the journal Arboriculture and Urban Forestry and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Environmental Horticulture. He is past president of the Illinois Arborist Association, the International Society of Arboriculture, and the Arboricultural Research and Education Academy. Gary Watson has been honored by the International Society of Arboriculture with its award for Arboricultural Research and the Richard W. Harris Author's Citation Award and by the Illinois Arborist Association with its Award of Merit and Honorary Life Award.