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Trees and Construction

Occasionally we get calls from customers who are excited about a new house, pool, shed, or fence that was just built, and want the advice of an arborist on the trees in their landscape. Consequently, construction can take a huge toll on trees in a landscape. In this month’s blog, we will be discussing the effects construction can have on existing trees and what can be done to protect them.

construction damage to a treeConstruction can greatly impact the health and vigor of a tree. One of the biggest concerns for a tree during construction is compaction of the soil. Many times, large trucks and equipment are driven over the root zone and compact the soil, which causes loss of pore space for air and water to reach the roots. Soil from the construction area may also be pushed on top of the tree’s root zone, causing the tree to be planted too deeply.

People often don’t realize that a tree’s roots will grow 2-3 times past the drip line of the canopy. Another concern is that when utilities and pipes are placed underground, a tree’s roots might be severed, which can greatly reduce necessary nutrient and water intake.

While construction equipment enters and exits the work site, there is also a concern of mechanical damage to the trunk, roots, and branches which can take years to fully seal closed. Another worry is that some trees may be removed while others are left behind. Trees that have grown in an environment surrounded by other trees have adapted to the protection of the elements. When their neighbor trees are suddenly removed, this leaves the remaining trees vulnerable to the wind, sun, and frost.

The effects of construction damages can cause a tree to decline slowly over several years. The weakening of the tree can cause insect and disease problems, resulting in a spiral of decline. The ultimate cause of death for trees that have construction damage is usually blamed on other factors, due to the fact that death from construction can take more than ten years.

The best thing you can do for your trees is hiring an arborist to be in the process before construction begins. An arborist can help you assess which trees are healthy and vigorous enough to keep and how to keep construction damage away from them. After construction is finished, it is important to get your trees on a routine pruning and inspection plan. Trees should be pruned every 2-3 years and annual inspections will ensure your trees are safe from pest and disease problems.

If you have a new construction project coming up, give your certified arborist a call to determine how you can better protect your trees in the process.