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Protecting Trees During Construction

Tree Protection Urban Forest Inventory Brochure


Construction Tree Care

Whether it is new home construction or an extensive renovation, minimizing the impact on the surrounding landscape takes careful planning and commitment from both homeowners and contractors working at the site. Experienced builders are becoming increasingly sensitive to preservation of the natural beauty of a home site and many have perfected methods to minimize construction damage to trees, shrubs & other vegetation.

An Educated Consumer
As with most significant changes in industry, the move towards preserving natural beauty during construction is consumer driven. Most homeowners are very much aware of the positive effect that mature trees & shady areas have on their quality of life . . . not to mention property values. In new housing, buyers are increasingly requesting that their homes be positioned to take advantage of rock outcroppings & mature tree specimens. They are disenchanted with developments that offer dozens of homes scattered on a barren landscape, with just a couple of forlorn trees left standing strangely out of place.

It is no coincidence that home sites that border wooded areas are most sought after. During renovations & foundation work, there are often many landscape considerations. Often times trees & shrubs are planted near a home when it is built and they grow to be a perfect compliment to the structure. When that structure is expanded, it takes a talented builder and committed homeowner to retain the services of an experienced tree mover for relocation of living specimens.

Trees during Construction

It’s All in the Planning
In new construction, builders will typically develop a topographic map to show land grades, slopes, streams & areas of large rock. Homeowners can request that builders include the location of specimen trees, wooded areas & rock outcroppings on these maps, allowing for optimal placement of the home in relation to the natural beauty of the property. Dwight Mossman of Hobbs, Inc., a builder of distinctive homes in the northeast, recommends including trees greater than six inches in diameter on the topographic map. He also includes the species of the trees involved in order to maintain maximum outdoor visual appeal during all seasons. “My clients pay the same attention to outdoor details as they pay to indoor specifics,” Mossman explained, “They place a high value on landscapes that include mature trees since trees provide natural cooling & a buffer to the wind. My clients understand that specimen trees cannot be replaced and should be taken care of during construction. Careful mapping & injury prevention provides an enhanced product.”

Site management plans can include specifics on traffic flow & parking to minimize the impact of vehicles on the environment. In addition, construction fencing should be placed at the dripline of the tree, anchored as far from the trunk as possible. Visualize the tree as if the canopy were an umbrella- the drip line is where the water droplets would fall to the ground. According to Mossman, “Cabling & bracing may be needed when the stability of a large tree is compromised. It improves the tree’s chance of survival.”

Construction Zone

Sources & Symptoms
When tree roots are removed or damaged, or fill is placed on the soil surface, trees may show decline symptoms within a few months. Trees on construction sites are injured by:

  • Lowering of groundwater
  • Compaction of soil
  • Removal of top soil
  • Loss or damage to roots
  • Damage to trunk & leaf crown.

Symptoms include small or off-color leaves, premature fall color, extensive water sprout development on the trunk & main limbs, dead twigs and eventually dead branches.

Naturally, the best way to protect trees on a construction site is to prevent, or at least minimize any changes that may cause injury. Trees that have been injured are best treated by first stabilizing their environment. Next, deliver the appropriate amount of moisture & avoid additional stress factors caused by insects & disease with an accredited plant health care program. Follow up with maintenance pruning, cabling, bracing & the implementation of a nutrient program designed to recolonize the soil with beneficial mycorrhizae and provide the nutrients required for healthy growth.

When homeowners & builders are committed to preserving natural beauty, they can work together to minimize the impact of construction & renovation, creating a home to be enjoyed both inside & out.

Click or call today to arrange a complimentary consultation from our fully trained and certified arborists for tree care, tree disease and lawn care services from SavATree.

Mike Galvin
Director, The Consulting Group at SavATree

Mike Galvin’s wide-ranging expertise in arboriculture includes urban and community forestry management, state-of-the-art tree inventory and management plans, tree protection and preservation during construction, as well as tree risk management and appraisals.

He is an accomplished speaker, researcher and published author on environmental and sustainability issues.

Mike currently serves as Strategic Partner for the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition, has served as Past President of the American Society of Consulting Arborists and the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture and served on the Chesapeake Bay Urban Tree Canopy Expert Panel.
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Matt Weibel
Consulting Arborist at SavATree

Matt has worked in arboriculture and urban forestry since 2002. He received a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. He has experience working on residential, private, and commercial landscapes and with municipal governments.

Matt is a member of the American Society of Consulting Arborists, International Society of Arboriculture, New Jersey Arborists Chapter of the ISA, and the New York State Urban Forestry Council.

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Allan Fenner
Consulting Arborist at SavATree

Allan Fenner has a wide range of arboricultural and urban forestry experience that includes the preparation of tree preservation plans, construction specifications, urban tree inventories and municipal tree preservation standards for road and side walk construction. He has managed multiple university campus inventory and construction projects as well as contributes to design and implementation. Allan integrated the use of ground penetrating radar for qualitative tree root assessment below ground in urban settings for the development of construction specifications in Connecticut. He has managed several large projects that included the implementation of tree preservation specifications and the installation of detailed infrastructure. He is an accomplished speaker and educator and serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Tree Protective Association. He is a qualified tree risk assessor and experienced in landscape planning, appraisal, forensics, damage assessments and expert witness testimony.

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Steven Geist
Consulting Arborist at SavATree

Steve has been a practicing and consulting arborist since 1983. He double majored in Plant Pathology and Botany at Colorado State University in 1983. Steve has participated in complex legal matters as an expert witness for a variety of clients including property owners, attorneys, corporations, real estate appraisers, insurers, city, county, state, and United States government. He is currently the Board Chair for the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund. Steve is also past president of the American Society of Consulting Arborists, Society of Commercial Arboriculture and the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture.

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Daniel Bunner
Consulting Arborist at SavATree

Dan works out of SavATree’s Springfield, VA branch. His primary focus areas for consulting services are the Washington DC metro area and Northern Virginia.

He is an ISA Certified Arborist and Tree Risk Assessment Qualified.


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Jean Zimmerman
Consulting Arborist at SavATree

Jean has worked in project development, helping municipalities, colleges, botanical gardens and others manage their forests. Jean and the team can help your property to be beautiful and healthy to impress clients, employees, visitors and guests.


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Brock Eastlund
Consulting Arborist at SavATree

Brock joined the SavATree team in 2016, bringing with him several years of experience working with clients, providing high-quality tree care and lawn care, including turf grass management.


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