If talking to plants helps, what about
In this context "hugging your trees" means taking special
care of them,
especially during excavation and new home construction.
Over the past decades, we've witnessed the death of dozens of mature and
stately trees that could have easily been preserved with the proper precautions
around their trunks and root zones.
Doing the 2-step
A few simple precautions will help most trees survive construction activities.
These precautions can be
narrowed down to 2 basic principles: 1. Protect the tree trunk 2. Defend the root zone
Trunk wounds like this can be deadly to a tree
PROTECTING THE TREE TRUNK
It's just wood, isn't it? No!
People tend to think of
tree trunks as just being wood. After all they say, how can you hurt
a board? It's only wood!
Even though the center of most tree trunks is just wood (Heartwood),
the inner bark consists of living cells. These layers are known as
the Phloem (FLOW-em) and the Cambium, with the Cambium being the
actual growth layer. The Cambium produces Phloem cells in front (to
its outside) and leaves Xylem (ZI-lem) behind.
These tree layers are similar to a
human being's arteries and veins, with the Xylem transporting
water and nutrients up the tree, and the Phloem transporting the
products of photosynthesis back down to the roots.
Since these layers of conductive tissue are just inside the often rough,
outer bark, it's very important to protect these tree tissues from
wounding, just as you protect your own skin from abrasions. Because
both cases, wounds provide an opening for disease pathogens to
enter. Therefore, protect a tree trunk like it's your arm!
DEFENDING THE ROOT ZONE
Roots don't breathe ...or do they?
Most people think tree roots can live without air since they are
buried in soil. However, as seen on our
soil webpage, half of a
soil's volume is made up of pore space. Tree roots use this pore
space to exchange gases and "breathe." If the root zone of a tree is
covered with a foot or two of soil, that's usually enough to
suffocate the roots and eventually kill the tree. Some trees are
adversely affected by as little as a few inches of soil fill over
To create a level
soil fill was carelessly graded
right up against this tree trunk
Cutting a few roots can't hurt, right?
Most tree roots aren't as deep in the
ground as most people think -- most roots are within two feet of the
soil surface. Cutting roots in this area can cause serious harm to
trees. A worst case scenario is digging a deep trench close to a
tree's trunk, which can effectively remove 40% of the root system.
This reduces the tree's stability, nutrient and water uptake, and
leaves open root wounds that provide an entryway for disease
Dieback of a tree's
is a sure sign of trouble,
often with the roots
Bad sign: Dieback at the
Protect your trees during construction!
excavating your new building lot, decide which trees you want to
preserve. In some cases, it won't be feasible to save trees that are
in the way. But for the trees that fit nicely on the building lot,
and provide some nice shade or screening, take some early steps to
1. Keep heavy equipment and big trucks off the root
2. Don't pile soil against the trunk or over the root zone
3. Avoid cutting trenches for utility lines close to the tree
4. Protect tree bark from heavy equipment and construction damage
Dead trees are known
"widow makers" due to the
deadly threat of falling
branches and increased
risk of blow-over