CARE AND PROTECTION OF TREES DURING CONSTRUCTION
Often a beautiful treed lot will be the determining factor in purchasing your home, or maybe it’s the neighborhood with mature tree lined streets. In any case, trees do have a strong impact for our environment and our communities. Protecting this asset is an important step in your landscaping or construction project. Make sure you follow the necessary steps to maintain the health of your trees.
Compaction of the soil around the tree roots is the leading cause of damage during construction. Tree roots require oxygen and water for growth and evelopment. The ideal soil has approximately 50 percent of pore space which allow space for water and oxygen which the tree needs for survival. The use of heavy equipment and repeated traffic can dramatically compact the soil and reduce the pore spaces.
Damage can take 3-5 years to appear on the tree after the initial damage was done. It is important to take all measures possible to reduce or eliminate compaction.
Changing the grade around a tree, even by only a few inches, will smother the roots. 90% of the fine roots that absorb water and nutrients are in the first 6-12 inches of the soil.
Construction equipment can cause tears in the bark or damage to the tree branches. This physical damage not only affects the aesthetics of the tree but increases tree stress. Once a tree is stressed it is more susceptible to health problems such as pest and disease.
Often tree roots are severed in order to install a sub base for a new driveway or patio. If the area of which the tree roots are removed is too large, the tree will be unable to absorb water and nutrients, subsequently killing the tree. Also the structure of the tree can become compromised. If stabilizing roots are removed, the tree risks falling over from lack of support.
Protecting your trees
Having proper barriers erected during construction is an inexpensive insurance against tree damage. It is far better to prevent damage than trying to correct it after it has occurred. The barrier around a tree less than 4 years old should extend to the dripline of the tree (the edge of the leaf canopy); older trees should have the barrier extend even further. For each inch of diameter of the tree trunk, the barrier should extend a foot. Once the barrier is erected there should be no traffic allowed in the space, no materials stored and no pedestrian access. If possible equipment access to the site and foot traffic should be directed away from the tree.
Steps should be taken during the design phase to plan accordingly with the existing trees. It is best to avoid cutting the roots but if is does occur then no more than 33% of the roots should be removed with no more than 25% from one side.
If you have any questions feel free to call your local arborist and your contractor to discuss; they will be happy to help you in taking the necessary steps to ensure the health of you trees.