Avoiding Construction Damage to Your Trees
Trees can be damaged in many ways during construction projects. Some of these injuries are not outwardly apparent:
- Broken branches, torn bark, and trunk wounds can be fatal to a tree if they are extensive.
- Root cutting weakens the support system of the tree. If utility lines must be installed underground or trenches cut for other purposes, be sure that the tree's root system is disturbed as little as possible. Severing one major root can cause the loss of 5-20% of the root system.
- Compacting soil around a tree with heavy machinery can limit the oxygen the tree needs and inhibiting root growth.
- Adding soil on top of a tree's roots can prevent the fine roots that absorb water and nutrients from doing their job. This can quickly suffocate even a mature tree.
- Exposing trees to elements that they are not used to can cause sun scald (sunburn) and weakening. This will leave the tree more susceptible to breakage from wind, snow and ice.
Much of the damage caused during construction can be avoided with a little planning and preparation.
- Get advice from an arborist in the early planning stages of your construction project. It may cost you a little something extra now, but it is a long-term investment in your trees and can help reduce future liability for you.
- Be sure your builder and arborist can work together so that your project needs are met with minimal tree damage.
- Erecting barriers will help protect the tree root systems and limit breakage.
- Be sure that all involved know where to drive and park their vehicles, where storage areas are, and limit the areas for other construction-related tasks.
- Remember that once your construction is completed, there are still other tasks that can harm your trees, such as landscaping and garden preparation, drainage systems, grading, etc.
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