Did you know your landscaping trees can sustain major damage from home construction projects?

Your trees may be thriving now. But, without the right protection, they may be accidentally damaged or killed during the construction process. This is true even for relatively small projects, such as adding a spa or garden shed.

Landscaping Trees During Home Construction

Fortunately, careful planning can save you the headache and cost of treating or replacing injured trees.

Choose the Landscaping Trees to be Saved

During the planning stage of your construction project, walk your property and do a tree inventory.

If any trees will interfere with the placement of construction project, consider whether you want to move them or remove them. Any that have severe disease or insect problems should be removed, as well as any that are too mature to move successfully.

Next, identify other trees that may be close enough to be affected by the construction.

To keep a tree healthy and strong, construction work needs to avoid the protected root zone (PRZ) – or, in other words, the area within the tree’s dripline. If damage to the PRZ is inevitable with your current construction plan, consider changing the project design or removing the tree before the project begins.

This means that, if any branches of any landscaping trees come close to where you will be building, your project has the potential to harm or even kill it. You can cut the branches back, however, that won’t shrink the PRZ.

Create Barriers Around the Landscaping Trees

Get some bright orange plastic fencing and surround the PRZ of each of the trees you want to protect. Provide the root systems with as much space as possible because, for many tree varieties, the roots can extend beyond the dripline.

Post “Off Limits” signs at each fence, and make sure all the construction workers know to leave the landscaping areas undisturbed. Take photos to document your tree protection before the construction begins and check it frequently to make sure it has not been disturbed.

To ensure compliance, you may want to ask your builders to sign a landscape protection contract, or include a clause in your contract with your contractor.

Prepare the Landscaping Trees for Construction

The healthier your trees are before the start of your construction project, the better their chances of surviving the process.

Take the time to do any necessary pruning, and make sure to give the roots plenty of water if rainfall has been less than adequate. And, if soil tests or symptoms show that a tree is stressed – look for abnormally small leaves, pale coloration, early leaf drop and peeling bark – now may be a good time to fertilize.

You can also spread three to four inches of good organic mulch around the PRZ to hold critical moisture. (Be sure to stop the mulch about six inches from the trunk – never put mulch all the way to the base of the tree.)

Inspect the Trees During and After Home Construction

While the construction work is ongoing, remember to check on your trees. Doing so gives you a chance to make sure none are suffering damage, and it also reminds the builders to be careful with your landscaping.

Once your project is finished, evaluate the condition of your landscaping trees. Though some problems may not be immediately visible, you may notice early signs of stress. Watering and re-mulching the root zone can help a tree recover if any damage is present.

If you need more tips for keeping your plants healthy during periods of stress, the friendly staff at Millcreek Gardens can help. To learn more about the proper care of landscaping trees, visit our Salt Lake City garden center today.