While walking with my wife and kids around the neighborhood last summer, I always admired a large White Ash down the street from our house. The tree, only a few yards away from the sidewalk, has grown happily for over 100 years. On one of our walks, I noticed construction-marking paint on the ground near my beloved tree. My two-year-old daughter exclaimed what a good job they did drawing arrows. Daddy panicked knowing that this could be a death sentence for the tree.
So why did I stress about the paint? As an Arborist, I know that construction has a negative impact on trees. The movement of trucks and equipment can lead to obvious injuries such as broken branches or torn bark leaving open wounds that provide entry points for insects and diseases. Scarring can sever part of the vascular system, leading to decreased amounts of water and nutrients transported to the crown of the tree. The not so obvious, but substantial damage, occurs underground in the root zone of the plant.
The roots of a tree are responsible for the uptake of water and nutrients, carbohydrate storage, and gas exchange. So imagine a 40,000 lb excavator driving on the soil just above these roots! The soil particles compact so much that water and air cannot penetrate the soil, effectively starving the plant tissue. On some construction jobs the roots of a tree are removed. This not only detaches the tissue, but may cause the tree to be unstable from the loss of the support structure.
It is inevitable for construction to take place around trees and shrubs, but measures can be taken to minimize the impact. Always work with your contractors to make them aware of your concerns about the plants in your landscape. Tree protection zones should be established using protective fencing that extends slightly past the canopy of the tree, if possible. The fenced off area provides protection from physical damage and limits the amount of soil compaction.
It can be difficult deciding how to protect your trees and shrubs during construction, home projects, or additions. How far do the tree's roots extend? What is the probability that equipment might hit the shrubs? ArborTech offers Plant Protection Services to help you answer these questions. Our Certified Arborists can evaluate the site and identify plants that might be impacted, implement a protection plan and install the proposed system. Call ArborTech to make a plan for your trees and shrubs, so you can continue to enjoy them when your projects are complete.