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Air Spade Investigation

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Air Spade Root Investigation

Artemis Tree Services are equipped to provide air spade services for a variety of projects.

Air spade uses a high speed jet of air to loosen and displace soil and is able to excavate around tree roots without causing them harm. Even very fine roots are left undamaged when undertaking air spade excavation. 

Air spade has the following uses:

Service installation

Trenches can be dug close to trees to enable installation of services without causing harm to tree roots. This is particularly important when working within root protection areas (RPAs) on development sites, and is a great alternative to machine trenching and even hand digging, which can result in extensive damage to roots.  

Root investigation

For new developments, determining the location of roots can help to inform design and location of foundations. In some circumstances, the distribution of roots is restricted by site features (e.g. buildings, boundary walls, streams) and it is possible to reduce or modify the shape of calculated RPAs by demonstrating that roots are not present in an area. 

Root pruning operations

Air spade excavation can be used to carefully expose roots where minor root pruning is required. This enables roots to be selectively pruned using sharp tools to lessen any harm caused to the tree. 

Root collar excavation

Excess soil around the base of trunks can be detrimental to the health of trees and can make them susceptible to disease. Using an air spade, excess soil is removed from the base of trunks to expose the natural root flare where roots meet the base of the trunk. 

Root inspection

Certain species of wood decay fungi can degrade the wood of large roots where they join the trunk, which can weaken the stability of a tree. Careful removal of soil from the base of the tree allows roots to be inspected and the safe condition of the tree assessed. This can be carried out in conjunction with our Resistograph decay detection drill, to provide a detailed assessment of wood decay.


Heavily compacted soils can have a detrimental impact on the health of trees. Compacted soils can be broken using an air spade, with air injected deep into the soil. This can be combined with surface mulching to increase the benefit provided. 

Soil improvement for tree health

Using radial or vertical trenching techniques, compost and/or Biochar can be added to soil within the rooting area of a tree, to improve soil structure and fertility. This has been shown to improve vitality of trees, and can even help trees to resist attack from common pests and diseases. 

Air spade root investigation can be used to identify and operate on a wide range of issues. If your tree is in need of professional care, give our team a call. We provide efficient and effective care for all trees in London, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and the surrounding areas.

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