Construction damage is probably the number one cause of tree death in
settings. What is construction damage? Any mechanical injury or change
in the trees
environment due to construction. Construction can be anything from
installing a new
irrigation system to constructing a new building. Anyone who has watched
all their prized
trees die within a few years following construction knows how
frustrating this problem is.
The sad thing is most tree deaths could be avoided with one simple call
to an arborist when
tree stress appears or, ideally, prior to the start of construction.
Tree stress from construction damage can manifest in as little as a few
take several years to show up depending on the tree species and health
prior to construction.
Symptoms to look for are leaf drop, thinning crowns, dwarfed leaves,
yellowing leaves or
insect and/or disease infestation.
Damage can come in the form of sideswiped trunks, broken limbs or
made by construction workers, unaware of proper pruning techniques. But
traumatic damage is done to root zones. Grade changes and soil
compaction, which are
always products of construction, leave soils that were once rich in
nutrients and chemistry,
lifeless. As little as four inches of soil placed on top of a root zone
can kill some species of
trees: especially if the soil is placed directly against the trunk. Soil
compaction, caused by
heavy machinery and even high traffic walking, squeezes the air and
water out of soil. Soil
organisms and tree roots are suffocated, and these dismal conditions
make it very difficult for
the penetration of new root growth and soil organisms. It is impossible
to eliminate these
factors from a construction site, however, measures can be taken to
decrease the affects,
and soil amendments can be added to put life back into the soil.