Prevent Construction Damage to Trees by Planning Before You Build

Landscape Design and Construction Plans with Tree Shaped Like a House

When beginning a project on your property, prevent construction damage to trees by planning before you build.  Whenever a tree experiences damage to its roots, trunk or main branches during construction, it is considered construction damage. This type of damage often has a negative impact on the health and longevity of trees.

When trucks and heavy machinery get moving, it’s a good idea to get out of their way. Trees, however, can’t move or yell, “Hey truck, get off my roots!” So, it’s trees and other foliage that are prone to suffer the most damage at a construction site.

Soil Compaction at Construction Site


Tree Roots on Surface

Heavy machinery compacts soil, crushing down dirt, rocks, and the small feeder roots of nearby trees. Half of the tree’s entire root system lies in the top one foot of the soil, very near the surface. Most of the remaining roots lie in the top three feet.

Not only that, the root system spreads out far and wide, sometimes a distance that is three times the tree’s height.

A heavy dump truck passing over these roots can easily squash or cut them off, thereby damaging part of the tree’s way of getting food.

Lack of Water for Healthy Trees

Tree Roots Looking for Water Damage Sidewalk

As the machinery drives above the tree’s root system, it creates a thick barrier of compacted soil above the roots. In fact, the soil is so pressed together, water cannot penetrate it. Even when it rains, water does not soak into the ground.

Instead, it puddles on top of the compacted soil and in some circumstances creates flooding conditions. Beneath the soil, the roots do not benefit from the rain, and the tree suffers from lack of water.

Oftentimes during construction, additional soil is dumped on top of the original soil which leads to further smothering of the roots below.

Lack of Oxygen and Nutrients

Tilled Soil with Earthworm

Think of a foot of soil being pressed together into just an inch. What has been pressed out?

Oxygen. Tree roots use oxygen and other nutrients from the soil to sustain their health. Compacted soil contains much less of these vital components. Without access to oxygen, the roots suffocate and begin to die.

How to Prevent Construction Damage to Trees

Wood Chip Mulch

Reroute construction traffic around the tree’s area. Use wood chips or mulch to line the route so that machines don’t compact soil as easily.

Prevention is key when it comes to construction damage to trees because it is much easier and less costly to think ahead and retain your healthy trees than it is to remedy the damage or remove them.

Plan carefully before you build! In the years to come you will be grateful for the flourishing trees on your property

Save the beautiful and useful assets your property possesses by protecting your trees during construction. Let us help you throughout each phase of your project by assessing which trees are best to keep and how to help them remain healthy. Contact us for more information about how to prevent construction damage to trees on your property.


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