Constructing with Care

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 29, 2010

a map drawn to scale of your property. It is easier to move items around on paper than it is to move heavy equipment around on site. This map should include all property lines, the dimensions (footprint) of the structure and the driveway, the amount and location of grading to be done, all of the utilities that are pre-existing and proposed. Remember, utilities include water, electrical, sewer, septic system lateral lines (if required), cable, and in-ground irrigation.

In order to properly save trees, this is the time to ask your contractor lots of questions about the site work. If you cannot obtain answers to these questions, then it is not the time to place any equipment on your property. Rather, continue to work on your paper plan. Once you are able to locate these items on your map, it is then time to move on to the physical layout of these items on the ground.

On the site, lay out the footprint of the home and all of the above-mentioned items. Use bright-colored flagging or spray paint to mark the lines. By identifying all of these areas, you should be able to see exactly which trees will be impacted by construction.

At this time, inspect the adjacent trees (outside of the footprint and of the utilities corridor) and identify which trees to save or which ones to remove when the heavy equipment is on site. So, how do you know which to remove? Keep this in mind when making your decision: Tree roots grow horizontally in the soil with a length up to two times the height of the tree. Visualize the tree you are considering saving, lay it down on its side and flip it again in most any direction, and you will probably be in the feeder roots of the tree. So, if the very large tree that you want to save falls into any of the construction zones, then it should be considered a candidate for removal.

Look around; are there any younger, smaller trees in this same area? Younger trees are better choices because younger tree roots do not have the horizontal length to them that larger tree roots have. Therefore, younger trees can acclimate easier to the ongoing construction damage with a greater chance of survival.

For example, a circle drive around a large oak tree is not the best choice for survival of the tree. You may want to

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