Air Spade

Root Investigation Service

Unlike a sky hook or tartan paint, an Air Spade does actually exist!

An Air Spade is an air lance, which is attached to a compressor via an air line. It uses the compressed air through the small nozzle to remove soil in an area that it is targeted at.


At SMW (Tree) Consultancy Ltd we use air spade work to expose tree root structures. This is particularly useful when it comes to our Arboricultural development reports as it categorically proves, without argument, where tree roots are. The evidence can then be used to design foundations around the roots.


Using an air spade can lead to a significant reduction in foundation costs. If the Air Spade reveals little to no root structures then conventional foundation construction techniques may be used. If it reveals roots under 25mm in diameter, then these can be pruned by a tree professional to allow for the foundations to be completed. 

If roots over 25mm in diameter are found then it may be possible to use more specialized techniques to get the foundation constructed.

The Air Spade can also save you money. If the Air Spade reveals a significant amount of roots along the foundation line and there are no options for foundation construction, then you can stop the project at this point, meaning that you are not spending anymore on a project that is unfeasible.

An Air Spade is not just used for root exposure for foundation design, an Air Spade can be used for the following applications:


An Air Spade can be used to remove any unfavourable soil conditions that could affect a trees health, for example soil compaction from cars parking on verges close to trees. Other circumstances include soil that is poorly drained, anaerobic or imbalanced in its physical or chemical compositions.

Depending on specific site conditions and proper evaluation, an appropriate coarse of action can be taken to improve the soil around the tree.


Soil replacement is sometimes beneficial for tree which have very poor soil, or where new landscape construction takes place around an existing tree. Examples include urban trees with poor soils. Full or partial bare rooting, air-tiling and soil blending are ideal for the Air Spade.


Sometimes, if a tree is planted too low or has soil built up at its base this can restrict nutrients, moisture and gaseous exchange to the tree. These three things are vital for the trees survival, an Air Spade can help to alleviate these issues.

Please contact us if you wish to find out more information about our air spade service, or click below to receive your free, no obligation quote.

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