Have You Made These 7 Construction Tree Preservation Mistakes?

Concrete stem wall and cleats at building siteWhen planning your new deck, patio, porch, or addition most people are focused on the look of the finished project but few ever think about how their trees will be affected. The reason most homeowners don’t think about their trees when planning renovations is mostly because the construction is happening a great distance away from the tree’s truck so they think it’s safe. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more wrong.  Because a tree’s critical root zone extends to or past their canopy tree, construction on one side of the yard can kill a tree on the other side.

Trees are easily damaged by construction and once the damage occurs there is not much you can do to keep your trees from succumbing to their injuries. This is why managing trees during construction is a process that needs to start in the planning stages and continue throughout the construction and even after the construction is over.

Below we’ve compiled the most common construction mistakes homeowners make and how to prevent them in your next construction project.

1. Not Evaluating The Trees Before Hand

Not all trees will survive construction. If the tree that is affecting your design has a low likelihood of survival it’s best to remove the tree beforehand. Although it will be sad to see your tree go, it is much easier and cheaper to take down a healthy tree than waiting till after construction damage has occurred when the tree is dangerous and brittle.

A certified arborist will be able to let you know which trees don’t stand a chance at surviving construction and which ones have a good shot.  The arborist can then work with you and the contractor to decide which trees should be removed and which trees should be prepped for construction.

2. Not Prepping The Trees For Construction

If you have a high-value tree which is going to have its critical root zone disturbed during construction the best course of action is prepping the tree. This can be done through strategic root pruning, health boosting injections called bio-stimulants, and growth regulators to help the tree prepare for the stress it will endure during construction.

Critical Root Zone

3. Not Erecting Barriers & Limiting Access

Most roots are found in the upper 6 inch to 12 inches. These roots can easily be disturbed by construction and led to your tree dying a few years later. To ensure your contractors don’t disturb these roots it is best to erect barriers and limit access to the critical root zone of the tree. Proper tree preservation plans will set up physical barriers (fences & signs) and fine your contractor for the damage they do to your tree’s roots if they violate these barriers.

4. Not Fighting Soil Compaction

Sometimes your construction is going to compact the root system of a tree and there is no acceptable way to alter the designs. In this case, you can use a Tree Root Protection system. A tree root protection system is a specially designed mat material that redistributes the weight in the critical root zone in order to protect the roots from compaction. This combined with tree prep and aftercare will give the tree a good chance of survival.

5. Not Abiding By County Regulations

Certain counties, including Fairfax and Arlington, require builders and architects to have a tree preservation plan. Because these regulations can change by city, size of the job, and canopies affected, it can be hard to figure out which regulations apply to which jobs. And when regulations aren’t met it can slow down your job and you could get hit with hefty fines, which are not always covered by the contractor.  Instead of worrying about these regulations we suggest hiring an Arborist that is knowledgeable about the local regulations to manage this aspect of the job.

6. Having No Aftercare   

No matter how careful any builder or architect is the trees in the area will sustain some sort of damage which is why aftercare is so important. Aftercare, similar to tree prep, focuses on keeping up the health of the tree. This may include overall health injections and treatments to keep insects and diseases at bay until the tree is healthy enough to sustain Ecology conceptthe natural stresses of its environment again.

7. Not Letting An Arborist Take Care Of It All

Let’s be honest the tree preservation process may be even a bigger headache than the construction project itself. Don’t spend your valuable time and energy figuring out how to preserve your trees. Hire an arborist to create a Tree Preservation Plan, work with your contractor, and abide by the regulation in your city/county. Our tree preservation plans are comprehensive, including evaluation, prepping, erecting barriers and limiting access, anti-compaction techniques, as well as aftercare.

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Samantha Huff

Samantha Huff is the marketing coordinator at RTEC Treecare. She enjoys learning about the technical aspects of trees and the insects and diseases that prey on them. She hopes that these articles can help homeowners gain control of their tree and shrub maintenance by being aware of the signs and symptoms of unhealthy trees.

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