How to Protect Trees from Construction Damage

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Protect Trees from Construction Damage

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When modifying the environment to meet our needs, nature’s well-being is often a second concern. Somehow, whenever we have a problem with natural obstacles, we dig them out, hack them down, and remove them, never thinking about the environmental impact. On the other hand, we like to think we are concerned about the planet’s ecosystems.

Well, we should be worrying about the ecosystems in our backyard first. This is especially true when it comes to construction work. Among the many other things to take into account such as minimizing the noise impact, dust and debris removal etc, one of primary concerns should be related to trees at and around the building site. You should protect trees from construction damage around your home.


Why Preserve Trees?

Protect Trees from Construction Damage

What’s the point in preserving trees around your home during construction? Isn’t it cheaper to do away with them and plant afresh?

For most people, the cost of preserving trees around a construction site is a major concern. Sometimes the design doesn’t work with the tree location.

However, it’s worth keeping in mind that shade trees add value to residential and commercial buildings. Indeed, mature trees can be preserved during construction with minimal costs and effort. In most instances, the trees are valuable enough to preserve, and justify the extra cost. 

Trees around your property have other benefits too including:

  • They increase property value by as much as 20 percent
  • Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen thus cleaning the air around your home
  • They reduce general property costs in areas such as air conditioning, soil replacement etc
  • Combat and offset emissions. A tree absorbs more than 1 ton of carbon over its lifespan. That’s equivalent to 11,000 miles of car emissions.


Site Preparation

You should get all the estimates on the eventual risks to the neighboring trees before the workers and the machines take over the site. 

Larger trees have thicker roots that are widespread around them, so that needs to be considered when digging ditches for plumbing, electricity or telecommunications. Ensure the ditch runs no closer than 6 feet to the nearest tree.


Protection or Removal

tree removal

The trees on a building site should also be protected by physical barricades. The size of the barricade should be proportional to the size and position of the tree. Arborists should give an opinion about the future relation between the tree and the construction. 

A small tree that doesn’t seem like a problem now will grow over the years, with its roots presenting a threat to the structure foundation and pipelines. In the case of a small tree, consider relocating it to a better position.


Indirect Damage – A Big Risk

Despite looking stately and powerful, tree trunks get easily damaged by the construction machines. One of the most common ways is stripping a part of the bark or plowing parts of the root. That aside, lower branches are also susceptible to breaking. Some indirect activities like digging ditches too close or leveling the ground are also hazardous.

Apart from leveling the smaller trees for good, leaving a big tree standing there with a damaged root is especially dangerous. That tree may start rotting and present a danger down the line.

Take precautions when using construction machines near mature trees. If possible, construct higher barricades to prevent destroying your trees accidentally.


The Importance of Roots

tree roots - Protect Trees from Construction Damage

Apart from providing support for the enormous tree mass to stand upright, roots have the role of sucking up essential nutrients from the soil.

A tree’s root system extends horizontally equivalent to the tree’s height. Furthermore, you must preserve at least 50 percent of the tree’s root system to maintain it in a healthy state. Consider constructing at least a few meters away from tree’s base to prevent root destruction.

A tree with damaged roots is, therefore, deprived of critical nutrients and may fall down in future, killing someone or damaging the property, perhaps the very construction that caused the damage in the first place, according to Sydney-based Priority Trees.


Lawsuits for the Irresponsible

If the tree gets damaged in the building process, despite precautions, experts from a tree pruning company should estimate the damage. Trees that lean to falling down should be removed, followed by charges against the irresponsible contractor.


Final Thoughts

Every tree is a valuable resource and a living thing in the first place. Learning how to cohabit with trees around us, is the only way to protect our clean air and rich soils for future generations. Regardless of the complexities in home designs, there is always a way to protect trees from construction damage while building with style and elegance.

{This article has been updated for freshness and consistency.}

  • Lillian Connors

    This is a guest post contributed by Lillian Connors. Lillian has been deeply into green practices for years, cherishing the notion that sustainable housing and gardening will not only make us far less dependent on others regarding the dwellings we inhabit and what we eat, but also contribute to our planet being a better place to live on.

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