Construction practice damages are one of the most common injuries we see in urban trees. They are typically the number one cause of man-made tree decline and tree death. As urban sprawl pushes its way from the cities into the countryside, many times contractors (in good faith) try to save the large mature trees that were living in the forests for homeowner to enjoy after their new home is constructed. Unfortunately, all too often, the measures taken to keep these trees safe during the construction process is simply too little, and we see the trees begin to die within five to eight years after construction. The most important step in keeping trees alive during new construction is to get an arborist involved as early as possible.
Common construction injuries:
- Soil compaction by large vehicles, heavy bulldozers, and aggressive skid steers.
- Grade changes where soil is either added or taken away from a site.
- Digging of trenches for foundations, utilities, or driveways.
- Mechanical injuries to the trunk of trees by large, earth-moving equipment.
- Broken branches and improperly removed sections of trees to provide clearance.
- Contaminants entering the root zones from vehicles or harsh construction chemicals.
Keep in mind the fine fibrous (absorbing) roots are within the upper four to ten inches of soils. With the extreme weight of construction vehicles along with the repetition in which they are on the site, they compact the soil, crush these small drinking roots, and ultimately lead to dieback of the root system. Sadly, this damage isn't noticed for years after the damage has been done, and rarely do homeowners relate the construction practices from years prior as the cause of their tree's sudden death.
While it may not be practical to save every tree on your lot, it is never fun to save a healthy, structurally sound tree, enjoy it from your new kitchen window for a few years, only to have it die shortly thereafter from construction practices. With proper planning and consulting with our arborists, tree barriers can be set up, tree protection standards and measures can be written into bids, and signs can be posted to prevent chemical contamination.
By taking all these measures into account, Community Tree Preservation can help to ensure many more years of enjoyment from your mature, forest trees.