Understanding How Your Neighbor’s Construction Could Damage Your Trees
November 18, 2014
Construction: It’s something that none of us can seem to avoid, living in the DFW area. It seems like a constant of urban life. Construction doesn’t only impact us in negative ways, but also the nature that surrounds us. As old homes are torn down, or homeowners add on to homes or put in new driveways, you may find yourself, and your trees, a secondary victim to construction damage. Think that fence line protects you? Think again: Construction in your neighbor’s yard can do permanent damage to your trees.
Roots that extend beyond the property line.
Prior to a construction job starting, we’re hoping your neighbor hired a certified arborist to work with the building contractor. Why should everyone do this? Because trees need some serious protection during construction jobs. Your tree’s roots can grow up to four times the width of the canopy. That means that if you have a large, established tree with 40-foot canopy, then the roots of your tree could extend into the yard two houses down from you. Any construction and compaction in your neighbor’s yard can damage your tree. There are ways to avoid cutting major tree roots when trenching for new plumbing and other construction work: Using an air-spade, we can create a pathway for new construction materials without cutting tree roots.
Don’t pile it up!
Most of a tree’s feeder roots are in the top 18-inches of the soil. These fine roots are responsible for taking up oxygen, water and nutrients. When heavy trucks, construction materials and piles of soil rest on top of these feeder roots for a period of time, those roots could suffocate from lack of oxygen or water. A loss of 30% or more of the root system would mean the loss of your tree. You may not even realize anything is wrong until the decline begins. Often, it may be too late to save your tree once it’s obvious the damage is done.
Runoff into your yard!
Often, new construction results in your neighbor’s home being on a higher grade than yours. That can mean lots of new water runoff to your property. Excess runoff from their irrigation system and rainfall can result in waterlogged areas on your property. This in turn can suffocate those tree feeder roots we just mentioned above. While changing the grade of adjacent properties, causing runoff to a neighbor, isn’t always legal, it can still happen. Working with an arborist at the beginning of your or your neighbor’s construction project can help prevent damage.
Plan now for your tree’s future
The main function of construction mitigation is to minimize construction damage to established trees. Prior to starting a construction project, a Certified Arborist should be called out to inspect trees on the property and also adjacent properties. They will assess the size of the root zone of each tree and fence off areas to protect the tree and its roots from soil compaction, equipment damage and runoff. Good protection can mean the difference between you keeping or losing your large trees.
Know a neighbor beginning a project? It’s never too late to have an arborist inspect the site. Check back at our blog next week when we’ll showcase a particularly interesting tree protection project we’re working on near White Rock Lake.
Please contact us for construction mitigation and protect your property’s valued resource, trees.