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Fine roots compact ground

For the last 2 years my mother has been fighting a loosing battle with fine roots. Wherever she digs the ground is compacted with a mass of fine roots. The roots are not attached to thicker roots. She has to sift the soil so she can work it. She will plant seedlings and after a few weeks the roots have overtaken the bed, matting around the roots of the young plants. The roots become so dense that one has to use a hoe to break up the ground. Watering exacerbates the problem and when watered the broken and unattached roots begin to grow. Mum has worked this garden for over sixty years. Yes there are trees around but there has been for many years. The yard is quite large and the roots are everywhere albeit not visible on the surface. She lives on acreage and is not impacted by neighbours. We are experiencing drought conditions but we have many times over the decades. We have been wondering if these are not just roots but a living organism that looks like roots. Perhaps someone has more knowledge. I have googled and come upon a couple of other similar sounding situations to which no helpful replies were posted.

Posts

  • CeresCeres Posts: 1,917
    Hello and welcome.
    I found this regarding trees which may be a partial answer. https://www.finegardening.com/article/how-drought-affects-trees-and-shrubs
     "As soils become dry during the hottest summer months, the fine roots in the upper soil surface may be stimulated to increase in number to get what little water is available. However, they will begin to die if soils remain dry, thus putting the root system out of balance with the amount of foliage found aboveground."


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,520
    edited September 2019
    Are you in the UK @nibbles463, and do you have a wider pic of the general area?

    It's possibly not something we're familiar with in the UK. I certainly don't recognise it, but others might - @Silver surfer is the one who's excellent at IDing all sorts of things  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Hello and thank you for your comments. We live in central Queensland Australia. Rather than die when it is dry they seem to remain dormant. To be honest I haven't paid the problem a lot of attention. I have removed some and am putting them in terrarium conditions to see what happens.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,520
    edited September 2019
    Ah - we do have an Australian poster here @nibbles463.

    @Pat E might be able to shed some light, or offer some suggestions  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Pat EPat E Posts: 9,565
    Hi Nibbles. I’m in the Snowy Mountains area of NSW. I’m thinking about your Mothers roots problem, but so far can’t come up with an identification or solution. . Do you have access to a Dept of Ag office. They might be able to help. I’ll keep having a think about it. We did live in Darwin for 13 years until Cyclone Tracy, so have some knowledge of hotter climate gardening. 😏


    S. E. NSW
  • Pat EPat E Posts: 9,565
    Just another thought - is there of the dreaded bamboo anywhere in the area?   Also, palms have very dense root systems.  I assume your Mother is aware of these things though. 
    S. E. NSW
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