brown wooden log on green grass field

Ways to Protect Trees During Construction and Landscaping

Construction projects often cause trees to suffer construction-related damage, including soil compaction, grade changes, severed roots and cut limbs.

These impacts make it hard for trees to grow, absorb water or receive oxygen; and may lead to breakage and decline of branches over time after projects.

1. Fence Off the Tree

People appreciate the shade and beauty that mature trees bring, yet are often concerned about losing them during construction projects. However, with proper planning, preparation, and care during this process a tree can often be saved; one way of protecting it would be fencing off its location – this allows it to remain protected from heavy equipment, material storage and traffic while still recovering after it has been finished!

A fence can help safeguard soil and roots by limiting soil compaction, which is harmful for both young and mature trees alike. Furthermore, fencing keeps construction debris and materials out from under the trees which eliminates the need for re-soiling after construction is completed.

Fenced areas should be clearly labeled and posted with information regarding Tree Protection Zones and tree preservation plans. Construction workers, contractors and equipment operators should receive training about how they can protect the trees. Penalties should be established for noncompliance to send a clear message. Home builders can include provisions for tree preservation in their contracts with developers.

A tree’s protected zone should be wide enough to ensure that most of its roots remain undisturbed, with at least two times the tree’s height being kept free of obstruction (Johnson 1999). Some areas may be used for equipment cleaning or storage purposes – however it is essential that such activities stay away from its protective zone.

Grading plans can also help identify locations of cuts, fills, retaining walls, streets utilities and heavy equipment routes to minimize construction impacts on tree roots and preserve expensive trees that might otherwise need to be removed.

Some construction activities can cause damage that isn’t immediately obvious, such as altering watering patterns or restricting their roots’ ability to absorb it. Such impacts may not become noticeable until stress-related symptoms such as lack of water are experienced by trees, or disease symptoms manifest themselves. To properly assess any potential damages and offer remediation advice, a certified arborist should be consulted as soon as possible.

2. Remove Debris

Construction sites often present construction workers with hazards related to debris, trash and materials falling from tree branches or trunks that pose dangers for both people using the site as well as damage to the tree itself. When possible, workers should use hand tools instead of machines for large item removal from trees to minimize root damage while cutting debris as close to the ground as possible for minimal root damage. It’s also vitally important that materials remain away from tree roots and limbs to avoid diseases or insects plaguing these natural ecosystems.

Before construction begins, it is vitally important to understand the characteristics and needs of different tree species and seek advice from an arborist or professional horticulturist. Learning their tolerance to construction impacts can help minimize damage while also helping identify which trees should remain and which should be removed.

As part of any development project, tree preservation requires creating an in-depth tree preservation plan with help from an experienced horticulturist, forester, arborist or landscape architect. This involves conducting an inventory to identify hazardous trees or those needing pruning or removal and assess suitability of sites for preservation. With this information in hand, a Tree Protection Zone (TPZ) should be created that protects both root function and growth while being situated outside the construction area.

Tolerance of construction impacts can differ considerably between species, soil depth, weather conditions and site disturbance. Preparing trees for disturbance by irrigating extensively before and during construction work; avoiding digging in wet soils; covering exposed roots as soon as possible post excavation (Johnson 1999) can all help increase their tolerance of construction impacts (Johnson 1999).

Construction activities can alter how much water a tree receives and expose it to sun and wind stress, so it is crucial that post-construction drainage patterns and soil moisture levels are carefully monitored – an arborist may need to be consulted in case there are concerns. Signs of overwatering might include dead twigs and branches or roots which have sprouted out from beneath the soil surface; for more effective construction practices TPZs with aeration systems installed can reduce compaction while aiding water infiltration while self-supporting concrete/ asphalt sections can prevent pruning damage by roots themselves reducing compaction and increasing air circulation around construction zones; self-supporting concrete etc.

3. Keep Vehicles Away

Careless driving while playing slots on, heavy equipment needs around trees or their roots or improper storage of construction materials may damage or kill trees that were selected for preservation. Even one misstep could prove fatal for valuable ones that were placed there to be preserved.

An established tree protection zone (TPZ) should be created at or beyond the dripline of any tree and clearly labeled with a sign. The size and location of such an enclosure depends upon site-specific factors; its size should ensure adequate protection of soil from compaction and roots from damage.

All traffic, material storage and equipment movement should take place outside the TPZ. Material or equipment that comes too close to trees compacts the soil, killing or harming roots; traffic or the dumping of construction materials also can damage bark, break branches or cause wounds in their trunks.

The TPZ should be free of obstructions and filled with wood chips at least 12 inches deep to reduce mud and sand splash, prevent vehicle tires from puncturing root balls or damaging bark, and minimize erosion of soil and mulch. This will minimize mud-splashing during construction activity as well as ensure its storage of materials is protected against erosion.

Grading can have serious repercussions for the health of trees. Cuts uphill can deprive them of water supply, while fills that are applied too densely can prevent water absorption by restricting pore space in soil and killing or impairing a tree by closing up their root system.

As much as possible, groups of trees should be preserved rather than individual specimens; if this is not feasible, the values and needs of each tree should be clearly specified in project plans to ensure the best decision can be made regarding what to preserve, reducing risks such as injury and loss. An accurate tree report and preservation plan is the cornerstone of this process – using this data for evaluation before construction starts on curblines, foundations or any other potential impacts to these precious flora is vitally important.

4. Trim the Trunk

A tree’s trunk is an integral component of its structural framework. It supports its weight, transports nutrients from its roots to the canopy, resists wind forces and supports branch growth, while protecting itself against injury and disease. An intact trunk helps ensure greater resistance against injury and disease compared to one damaged during construction activities; construction damage to a trunk could result in wounds that won’t heal, pockets of decay which serve as entryways for insects or diseases as well as structural failure (root rot or loss of limbs).

Proper pruning and maintenance help lower the risks of construction injuries to trees. Contractors, equipment operators, and workers must be educated on the value and importance of protecting trees during construction activities; penalties can be levied against contractors who cause tree injuries; homeowners may wish to include preservation terms into contracts with home builders and contractors.

Before construction begins, inspect existing trees to identify those which pose hazards or lower quality trees that must be removed. A tree inventory form completed by a qualified arborist or horticulturist can provide valuable data which should then be presented back to the construction team as part of an official tree report.

Marking trees clearly on site plans and grading drawings allows them to be located, protected, or removed as necessary – which prevents root, trunk, crown damage as well as potential encroachments by buildings, roads, sidewalks, driveways or utilities.

A protective root zone (TPZ)’s size depends on several factors, including tolerance to soil disturbance and construction impact as well as age and vigor of a tree. TPZs should extend out past its dripline. In an ideal world, their width should exceed that of its root collar at base of trunk.

Construction activities that disturb the ground or roots of trees can lead to soil compaction, restricting their ability to absorb moisture and nutrients. Altering grade under or near trees may cause root rot or kill it quickly. If the project requires fill, it is crucial that steps are taken to maintain natural grades under each tree by monitoring how the fill has moved or is covering up roots – test holes can help indicate this issue.