Do you know the long term effects of incorrect plant placement and soil preparation? These tree roots were growing along the surface and in a ball-like mass rather than growing downward into the soil. Clay can become incredibly thick and compacted to where a plant’s roots are unable to grow proper. This is a perfect example of improper soil preparation. When preparing to plant trees or shrubs in your landscape, you need to ensure that you are digging most of the visible clay out and back-filling with a soft easy landscape mix. The mix will allow the plant’s root system to penetrate and permeate. If you dig directly into the clay, it will create a “bowl” where root balls will eventually sit in water once we get too much rain or if it is over irrigated. This will eventually cause wet roots and result in plant death.