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Tree protection

Avoiding Tree Damage During Construction

There is a growing awareness today about the effects of deforestation and cutting down of trees that lead to highly polluted environments, global warning and thinning of the ozone layer. Sadly enough, these activities are indispensable today and need to be carried out for developmental work, construction of housing colonies and industries, widening of roads and rapid urbanisation. People when they build their houses choose plots that have good tree cover to ensure green and pristine surroundings. Additionally, a house with a garden and trees is high on curb value, guaranteeing good returns if sold.

How are trees damaged during construction? The first is of course physical harm to the portion above the ground. Branches and limbs are often broken off or damaged and if the wounds are not promptly taken care of it might even be fatal for the tree. Cranes lifting bulk and heavy materials might damage the crown. But the deadliest of possibilities is damage to the roots. It is sometimes not possible to estimate the length that the roots have extended below the ground. Hence, construction even some distance away from the tree can damage the roots too.

The problem then is to protect trees on building sites and it can be done if the right action is taken by the builder. Here are a few ways that damage to trees can be avoided during construction.

If you are constructing your home in an area that has a few trees standing, get an arborist on your team. They are experts in tree care and will know exactly what to do. To a layman roots go down deep below the trunk of the tree only. But as an arborist will tell you over 90% of the roots that absorb water and nutrients from the soil are within the top 6in to 12in of the top soil. Hence if the builders pile up additional soil in close proximity to a tree to increase grade, these roots will get smothered and the tree will die. For more information on how to protect trees during construction, visit

There are a lot of advantages when a builder works closely with an arborist. A tree or a number of them can be saved by making very minor changes in the building plans which in no way will reduce the aesthetics of the structure. Your home will be as you want it to be while trees are saved in the vicinity.

Another way to protect trees during construction is to erect protective barriers around them. These should encircle the trees as far out from the trunk as possible. The rule of thumb is leaving 1ft of length for every inch of diameter of the tree. This will adequately make provision for safeguarding the roots even if they stretch out long.  Further, make sure that the area that has been fenced off should not become a dumping ground for excavated soil or other construction material.

The work of protecting trees should not end after construction activities are completed. Landscaping can take an equal toll on the trees. Installing pipes for automatic sprinkler systems and irrigation facilities can damage roots. Even slight grading that might not be discernible to the naked eye (2in to 6in) creates pressure on the roots and can damage your trees and make them weak.

A lot of work remains for you even after the finishing touches have been given to your house and you have moved into your spanking new home. You have to remember that through the construction stage your trees have gone through a traumatic experience and now needs special care to make them strong and healthy. In fact, stressed trees often require several years to fully recover their health. Here again you should consult arborists to determine the course of action that will bring the trees back to normal health again.

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