I've been learning more about how roots factor in the equation of a terrific tree. Well, as it seems most folks usually think about a tree, they think of the overall shape and size first, foliage and flowers second, branching third, bark fourth, and other things like fruit and leaf change in autumn in various degrees of importance. Your take may be a bit different, and mine certainly is, but that's kinda the normal way we prioritize what we see.
Roots are pretty much ignored. They're down at the bottom, covered with dirt, so there's not much to see. But ponder this a bit and your perspective will change.
In bonsai, roots are important to the whole presentation. Root flare is called nebari, and it's pretty difficult to achieve an excellent system of this. It's especially hard when we get a potted plant with roots what weren't managed well from the nursery days. We can learn from a good bonsai nebari with landscape trees. If we think of the roots as they exit the trunk, they're indeed part of the trunk, and can be just as interesting in many cases, maybe more so in some. It's a hoot to see a bunch of tentacles radiating out, grabbing the ground, holding on for dear life, and fading into the ground inches or feet away. Some of the most interesting trees in the world have roots as a huge part of their allure. Think of one of those huge banyan/ficus trees like in Jurassic Park, or a Bald Cypress with roots and knees from the roots coming up from the ground and water. Or think about arial roots. If you haven't seen them on a real tree, they're powerful cool.
Anyway, as it turns out, it's much better for the tree to have the top of their immediate roots exposed right as they exit the trunk. There's some rot and pest issues and stuff if they're covered over with dirt or mulch or other such nonsense. As it turns out, if you mulch, you're supposed to keep it away from the immediate tree. The feeder roots that are actually doing all the hard work are further away, so there's no reason the big fat roots need water. And it's better to keep those puppies dry right there. Actually, the tree was supposed to be elevated a bit during planting so water drains away from it. but in most cases trees are planted too low.
I'll have more to say about this later, but this is a good start.
Be a Tree Dawg Knight!