Ask an Arborist: Construction Damage
January 11, 2021
Unfortunately, we see trees damaged by construction all the time. Trees that have been damaged from construction might immediately die or may not show signs of decline for several years. Here is a question posed to one of our expert arborists about tree construction damage:
Q) I built my dream home on the perfect lot, and now the trees have died. What happened?
A) Construction happened. Unfortunately, we see trees damaged by construction all the time. Trees that have been damaged from construction might immediately die or may not show signs of decline for several years.
ISA Certified Arborist, Chris Becherer says:
“It’s unfortunate that in the construction of this beautiful home, the homeowners lost most of their trees. They picked this premium lot because of the trees, built their ideal dream house, and accidentally killed the trees with the construction.
The problems we can see include excess soil over the root system and covering up the root flare at the base of the tree. We also have additional root damage where the driveway was poured over the roots. Not seen, but probably also contributing to the tree's death, is soil compaction, excess water from new sod, and cutting of roots by trenching for utilities from the street to the home.”
“All of these issues could have easily been corrected if the homeowner had contacted a certified arborist before construction began to enact a tree protection plan. By working with an arborist, these trees probably would have survived.”
Preservation Tree Services can assist property owners in providing the proper protection of trees before, during, and after the construction phase. Items that we address in order to keep trees healthy during construction include:
- Is there enough clearance for equipment to be moved in? If not, then preventative pruning may be required.
- Clear definition of the tree-protection area.
- Placement of off-limits signs on these areas.
- Assigning dollar values to each tree within the construction zone.
- Reducing soil contamination from solvents, paints, oil, combustible materials and effluent run-off -- sources of long-term tree damage.
- Large equipment causes soil compaction. Clear signage and fencing to limit traffic and specifying the storage areas can save roots and the soil.
- Piling excavated dirt around the base of a tree can injure its bark, starve the tree of nutrients, and introduce rot or fungus. We ensure the crew has a clear space for excavated dirt.
- Be sure trees are getting water during construction, especially in summer. Cordoned off trees are often forgotten.
- Feeding the trees before, during, and after construction will promote growth and minimize shock.
Posted: January 11, 2021