Landscape Construction Protection

We have hammered home the concept of “Right Tree, Right Place,” but what if that tree is already in the right place? Now there are new structures or parking areas erected, only to make it not such the right place. Designing around established trees is not only admirable, but also a sustainable practice, especially helping to achieve cities tree canopy goals. However, often times trees are an afterthought and minimal care and protection is given to these beauties during construction. Unfortunately, additional expenses ensue after the project has been completed because of tree failures. Here are a few steps to make sure your tree is protected during a construction project:

  • Hire a certified arborist to develop a protection plan and inspect the tree during construction.
  • Create a barrier around the tree using the formula 1.5’ for every inch of DBH, diameter at breast height, or 4.5’ off the ground.
  • Do not allow construction crews or equipment access to this protected zone.
  • Limit foot traffic and vehicles from driving over the root zone, which can compact soil and limit air availability to the roots.
  • Include signage around the tree instructing crews not to enter the protected zone.
  • If trenching or digging is required within the protected zone, consider hiring a professional who can ‘air trench’ the area, which greatly reduces the damage to the root zone.
  • If roots must be removed, limit removal to roots outside of the protected zone or smaller than 4” in diameter within the protected area. Removing larger roots will likely have a negative impact on the tree’s health.
  • Any cuts made to the roots should be done with sharp tools to encourage wound closure.
  • If irrigation is temporarily shut off, ensure supplemental water is given to the tree regularly to help reduce drought stress.
  • Do not allow items to be hung or tied to tree during the project.

It is important to budget tree protection care during any construction project to help conserve and protect established trees on your property.  Convey the significance of the tree and why it is important to protect the growing space to any hired professionals on the job, and have a plan in place if the tree does sustain damage during the project.