Tree protection during construction is extremely important because the damage that occurs during this process is irreversible. Trees, especially their critical root zones, are also very easily damaged by construction.
When 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. Many homeowners think because the construction is happening on the other side of the yard or far away from the tree that the tree is 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.
In order to prevent root damage, soil compaction, and trunk injuries, you need to invest in a Tree Protection Plan (also known as Tree Preservation Plan & Tree Conservation Plan) before you start renovations.
Laws About Tree Protection:
Fairfax County and Arlington County both require a tree protection plan for anyone engaging in land disturbing activities in the county. For homeowners, they will usually require this plan if they are doing major hardscape/landscape changes or major renovations such as an addition. You will need to hire a professional, such as a Certified Arborist, to design this plan and submit it to the County.
Fairfax County’s Tree Conservation Plan: Fairfax County refers to their tree protection ordinance/plan as a Tree Conservation Plan. More information can be found here: http://fairfaxcounty.elaws.us/code/coor_apxid44897_ch122
Arlington County’s Tree Preservation Plan: Arlington County refers to their tree protection ordinance/plan as a Tree Preservation Plan. More information can be found here: https://building.arlingtonva.us/project/landscape-tree-preservation-plans/ and https://environment.arlingtonva.us/trees/support-trees/specimen-trees/tree-preservation-ordinance/
Why Should I Care About Tree Damage?
- When a tree is severely damaged it will die and you will eventually have to remove the tree.
- Tree removal is expensive and can cost more than the preservation plan to save the tree.
- A mature healthy tree can raise property values by 10%
- Higher Energy Costs: The shade and windshield provided by a tree can reduce heating & cooling costs up to 15%
- Fairfax County and other surrounding counties have laws that require you obtain a tree protection plan (tree preservation plan) before performing certain types of construction. If you don’t obtain this and damage the trees you could be facing fines from your county.
How Can I Prevent Damage?
Invest in a Tree Protection Plan (Tree Preservation Plan). These plans typically consist of 3 stages to give your tree the best chance of survival.
First Stage: Prep your trees for the construction.
Second Stage: Limit the amount of damage and stressors they will encounter during construction.
Third Stage: Provide aftercare that will help your tree recover from the stress of construction.
Not every tree will survive construction. If a tree has existing health issues it may have a low chance of survival, even if it has a tree protection plan. In these situations, an Arborist may recommend removing the tree instead. A Certified Arborist will be able to walk you through this process and explain the reasoning behind every step in the plan.
Common Tree Preservation Techniques:
Tree Preservation Fencing
Compacted Soil Remediation
|Root pruning may be required to ensure that the tree’s root system is not ripped or torn during construction. Root pruning should be performed by an experienced plant health care technician.||Fencing and warning signs should be installed to keep heavy trucks, machinery, and people out of the critical root zone.||Compaction occurs from heavy machinery and equipment driving over or parking on the tree’s critical root zone. Compacted soil decreases water and air constricting the tree’s root growth. We utilize innovative tree maintenance techniques and processes to achieve decomposition and soil remediation.|