TLC for Trees

Protect your trees from potential construction damage

Credit: Flickr / Tim Green

Construction damage can affect the structure and stability of a tree.

Ensure the trees are safe by asking an arborist to check for potential hazards. A hazard check may involve a simple visual inspection, or instruments may be used to check for the presence of decay.

Irrigation and Drainage: One of the most important things you can do for a damaged tree is to maintain an adequate, but not excessive, supply of water to the root zone. Keep the trees well watered, especially during the dry summer months. A long, slow soak over the entire root zone is best. Keep the top 30 cm moist and avoid frequent, shallow watering. Proper irrigation may do more to help trees recover from construction stress than anything else you could do.

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Mulching: Apply a five to 10-cm layer of organic mulch over the root system of a tree to enhance root growth. The mulch helps condition the soil, moderates soil temperatures, maintains moisture, and reduces competition from weeds and grass. The mulch should extend as far out from the tree as practical for the landscape site. Do not pile mulch against the trunk.

Fertilization: Most experts recommend you do not fertilize your trees the first year after construction damage. It is a common miscon-ception that applying fertilizer gives a stressed tree a much-needed boost. Instead, fertilization should be based on the nutritional needs of trees on a site.

Monitoring for Decline and Hazards: Despite your best efforts, you may lose some trees from construction damage. Symptoms of decline include smaller and fewer leaves, dieback in the crown of the tree, and premature fall colour. If a tree dies as a result of root damage, it may be an immediate hazard and should be removed right away. If you detect any defects or suspect decay, consult an arborist.

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