As landscape architects we love trees! Be they pre-existing or newly planted, trees are often the backbone to a site design. Being in this position allows you to work in a company with like minded individuals and get to make the most out of the latest innovations such as tree care software, to assist tree care companies with their everyday needs and other businesses for that matter. I love my job so much if you cannot tell.
Mature, statuesque trees add invaluable character to a place and are often a site’s greatest asset or attraction. Take for instance the Queens Giant, a tulip tree located in Alley Park Pond in Queens; it’s an estimated 350-450 years old, possibly the oldest living thing in New York City. A tree planted today wouldn’t reach this age until 2365! Landscape architecture involves a significant amount of long-term thinking and planning, so we recognize the importance of preserving and protecting existing trees for future generations. To make sure this happens throughout the construction process, we typically team with a certified arborist to provide a tree assessment report and develop a tree protection plan.
At the beginning of the design process, an arborist begins by reviewing the health of existing trees within a project boundary. This provides a baseline for pre-construction conditions, as well as informs the design team and owner if specific trees are structurally sound and healthy enough to survive a long construction period. A typical tree report begins by creating unique tags for each tree being evaluated and includes information like caliper size, dimensions for the crown width or dripline, and the critical structural root zones. It also provides a condition assessment that looks at the roots, trunk, and branching structure of the tree. Trees can then be identified to remain based on a variety of factors including size, aesthetics, proximity of root zones to new construction, and significant shading provided by canopy width. Once the report is provided, the design can then develop around a realistic base plan that includes areas of protection and areas of new planting. Because the majority of a tree’s most absorbing roots are in the top 24 inches of soil where water and oxygen are most available, existing ground elevations around protected trees must be maintained, when possible, as far out as the dripline. Because these criteria can affect a design, it’s essential to establish them at the beginning of the design process.
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