Care for base of healthy large old tree?

Hi all! Question for you regarding an 80-foot oak I have..... Over the years the grass that has been under the tree has receeded, leaving bare dirt around the base of the tree. This isn't problematic and is probably good in that weedwackers aren't messing with the trunk. However I see the dirt is eroding around the tree and I'm wondering if I should put a few inches of top soil or something around the base to compensate for the erosion? It just looks to me like something negative might be setting up to happen here over the years and as this is a really big and grand old tree (almost 3 foot diameter trunk, much wider at base) I want to take good care of it!
Thoughts and suggestions are welcomed -- thanks!
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com
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Are you sure that erosion is happening? Sometimes the root flares "bulk up" so that the tops push above the soil line. That could look like erosion.
The working part of the roots is way out from the trunk, at the dripline and beyond. Those are the little tiny hairs that do all of the nutrient absorption. The rest of it is just plumbing and needs soil only for structural support.
I would leave it alone. The tree sounds like it is doing just fine.
JMHO
John
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I concur... leave it alone. Oak trees tend to be particularly sensitive to changes in depth of soil over the roots, as lots of people have found when they regrade their yard and shove some soil next to the trees. 3-10 years later, they get to have the tree removed. http://www.mortonarb.org/research/treeroots.html http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/1995/7-14-1995/prot.html
Kay
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Also, if the OP spots something that appears to be a disease, read, read, read and read some more, before you bring in a tree "expert" who charges all sorts of big money to stick vials of medicine into the tree. While young and impressionable, my wife & I paid some huckster who said our 50 year old sycamore had 6 months to live if he didn't do all sorts of treatments. Turned the tree into a pincushion for a couple of weeks. The next season, the tree was rid of the fungal thing, and two years after that, too. Then, it came back. We read. Turns out sycamores survive the illness just fine without any help, thank you. Otherwise, Rochester NY would have dead sycamores all over the place. All we had to do to help it a bit was to stop using its diseased leaves as mulch all over the yard. No idea if it helped, but the tree's still rockin' and rollin'.
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Thank you all for your advice! I prefer to err on the side of letting nature care for them, but in suburbia man messes with it more than is best and I'm never quite sure if somehow I'm sabotaging it inadvertantly. I've done nothing to that part of the yard except mow, so I'll leave well enough alone. Thanks again!
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Another thought: Does your state have a cooperative extension service, for agricultural & gardening advice? If so, you'll probably be able to find someone who's familiar with your question.
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