God Save the Trees!

My favorite landscapes to design are those that already include mature trees. They provide a framework to start, drama, history and most importantly shade and air quality.  The placement could be seen as a hindrance, but as the images below showcase with some thought can be incorporated into any design.

Image Credits: 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6, 7,


I don’t think there is a homeowner out there that does not desire large mature trees in their yard, but often folks don’t know how to look out for the tree’s best interest. The worst offences are during construction phase. With well intentions to keep the trees, the construction proceeds to slowly kill the tree with parking equipment under or piling soil on the roots, even something as repeated foot traffic can have deadly effects. The tree will not die right away, but a few years down the road the tree will die or at the very least large branches will die. The sad part is protecting the trees is very simple with a little planing before construction begins.


Here are some quick pointers for protecting your trees:

Have a Plan. Before any construction starts, walk the lot with your contractor and confirm which trees should be saved. You can hire an arborist to evaluate tree health in selecting the trees to protect, this will be a huge benefit to make sure the trees you are saving are healthy.  Make sure the trees selected are clearly marked and this is communicated to all contractors on the lot.


Put up Barriers. Protect the tree and root area with barriers around the truck and root system. For every inch of diameter of the tree, include one foot in the barrier from the tree truck.  Snow fence works great but also wood structures help provide additional barriers.


Utilities Harm Too. Pay attention to the trenches for utilities. Request they bore all utilities under tree roots (compared to trench dug). Approve the locations the trench will dug. An arborist can help provide recommendation where trenches can be dug with the smallest impact to the root systems. Make sure all trenches are filled ASAP after being dug and make clean cuts on any roots damaged during the process.


Grade Matters. After construction is completed, ensure proper grade is around all trees.You will want to keep the preexisting grade before the construction started. Too much grade will suffocate the roots and kill the tree.


If you want to see more details about protecting trees, check out this site. It is sad to say, I barely see the precautions listed above while driving past both home and commercial construction sites. It should really be the part of all construction practices and only the home owner and the old trees lose out.


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