Tree Damage How To Avoid It During Construction

Don't Let Your Trees Suffer Damage hazardous trees

America continues to develop wooded areas for residential and commercial use. As these developments move forward, planners try to salvage some of the remaining trees to add natural beauty to the landscape. But if precautionary steps aren’t taken, these trees will be put at severe risk during the construction phase of each project.

How Tree Damage Occurs
Construction workers can unknowingly injure or kill a tree when land is being developed. Damage to trees during construction usually occurs in:

  • Striking the tree trunk or its branches- The most obvious way to damage a tree during construction is to strike the tree or its branches with trucks or other heavy construction equipment.
  • Compacting the soil- The soil surrounding a tree has pockets of air between each grain, allowing water and vital nutrients to flow into the tree through its roots. If construction vehicles drive too close to the tree, the soil will be compacted and new root growth will cease.
  • Cutting the root system- Digging and tunneling too close to a tree can cut one or more roots and injure the root system.
  • Removing Neighboring trees- There is safety in numbers. In undeveloped wooded areas trees grow together and protect each other from the elements. When neighboring trees are removed it can expose the remaining trees to sun, wind and cold temperatures.

  • What You Can Do To Avoid Construction Tree Damage

    In many cases, it can take years for symptoms of this damage to reveal itself. By then no one will associate the dying tree to construction related injuries and it will be too late to save the tree. Here are some simple steps you can take to avoid damage to your trees during construction.

  • Often people take steps to protect trees during construction, not realizing that the tree is suffering from decay or disease, or is just at the end of its life cycle. That’s why your first step should be to contact an ISA Certified Arborist. An arborist will inspect your trees to make sure that they’re worth saving. Then if your trees are deemed healthy enough, the arborist will develop a sound plan to help them avoid construction damage.
  • Before construction begins, it’s also a good time to fertilize, mulch and water your trees. This will boost their immune systems and help them cope with the stress of construction.
  • Chain link fences should be used to barricade the trees off during construction. Chain link fence companies will rent, install and later remove chain link fences, at very reasonable rates. Fences should be installed at the drip line (the circumference of the tree at the far end of the branches) so that neither people nor equipment can disturb the trees.
  • If construction needs to come inside the tree’s root zone, a certified arborist should first prune the roots, before the construction barricade can be put right outside the area.
  • Make sure no one stores tools or any other materials in the fenced in area, as this can damage the root system.
  • Protect yourselves and your trees by including language into your contract with the construction company, that they cannot remove the barricades or knock them down without incurring a fine, or being held liable for damages.

  • Jon Wilbur is an ISA Certified Arborist and co-owner of Pinellas Tree Service, in Clearwater.

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    Jon Wilbur