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Girdling roots are roots that grow around or across the trunk or other roots. Girdling roots act like a tourniquet, restricting and eventually cutting off the flow of water and nutrients to other areas within the tree. They are common on trees planted in urban areas. Although the symptoms of girdling roots show up as the tree is maturing, the problem generally starts when the tree is young. Two types of girdling roots can cause damage. A strapping root crosses over one side of the trunk or root system restricting growth on that side of the tree. A circling root wraps around the trunk. There are many symptoms of girdling roots: small leaves, early fall color and defoliation to name a few.