Protect your Trees from Construction – Creating Tree Protection Plans

As an arborist most of the work I do is reactive. A branch is hitting the roof- I prune it, a tree is sick- I diagnose it, a tree is dead- I remove it, etc. Unfortunately being reactive can often offer limited options and finite results. A proactive approach can be a much more efficient, effective and economical approach to most situations. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

I see this no more evident than with trees and construction. During construction trees can be subjected to a wide array of stresses that can have long term and irreversible consequences. This can affect the functionality, aesthetics and most importantly the safety of a tree and their surrounding property.

Creating and implementing a tree protection plan is an effective way to insure the elimination or reduction of stress endured by trees during and after construction.

What is a tree protection plan? A tree protection plan (TPP) is a multi phase plan that is created to protect trees during construction/renovations/landscaping or any other event that may affect trees on your property. It creates guidelines and rules to be followed through the construction process. An efficient TPP relies on open communication and cooperation between the client, the contractor and the arborist. As previously stated a TPP is multiphase and can be organized into 3 stages: pre-construction, during construction and post-construction.

During the pre-construction phase it is important to decide on the goals and objectives of the TPP. An inventory of all trees possibly affected by construction activity should be recorded. Deciding what trees are high priority as well as where construction machinery will be driving and dumping are just a few considerations. Barricades and barriers are to be setup as well as means to protect the root zone from compaction and damage. It is wise to have a TPP document created as a contract which must be followed by all parties involved.

During construction it is important to ensure that the TPP is being adhered to. Situations will arise that will need immediate attention (i.e. Root and branch pruning and watering). These events should be addressed and documented.

Post construction activities involve dismantling and removing barricades, addressing any immediate tree concerns and implementing a monitoring program. A continuing monitoring program is important as trees rarely show stress or decline until several years after the initial damage.

With the implementation of a tree protection plan it is possible to be proactive and protect trees or at least alleviate the stresses endured during construction. It will also increase the chances of having healthy trees to enjoy well into the future.

As always I hope this has been informative especially to those of you getting ready to start some summer projects.