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More often than not, land developers give no consideration to protecting trees during construction projects. The majority of damage to trees during construction happens to the root system of the trees. It’s not uncommon for trees to survive while the construction is being done, but to slowly decline and die after the construction project is completed. If developers or land owners are serious about protecting trees during construction then the needs of the trees should be addressed before the construction around trees begins. It’s usually easier, and cheaper, to remove trees that won’t survive the construction activities before the project is completed than to remove the trees after the building is completed.


Protecting trees during construction should begin by contacting an ISA Certified Arborist or a consulting arborist. ISA Certified Arborists or consulting arborists can let developers know if the trees they want to keep will survive during and after the construction work is done. ISA Certified Arborist or consulting arborists can also provide developers guidelines on how to go about protecting trees during construction.

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Protecting trees during construction may vary depending on a particular project, but the following list of protective measures is common items necessary to protect trees during construction:

  • Indicate on the site plan which trees are going to be removed and which trees are going to be saved.
  • Obtain tree removal permits, if the city has a tree ordinance, and remove trees before construction begins.
  • Prune trees before construction begins. Leave the woodchips from tree removal and tree pruning on site to use under the trees to protect tree root zones.
  • Fertilize trees before construction begins.
  • Put up fencing around the trees to be saved to keep construction equipment and materials away from the trees. At a minimum, the fencing should extend out to the drip line of the tree. Trenches, roads, and sidewalks should be outside the fenced areas.
  • Have an ISA Certified Arborist or consulting arborist monitor the trees to be saved during the construction process and report on any tree care needed while the construction is being done.
  • Plan on extra care of trees being saved after the construction is completed. Tree care may include tree pruning, tree fertilizing, tree spraying, and tree watering.

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