Trees & Buildings

Trees and construction work often come into conflict in urban areas. On one hand, large trees can cause problems for buildings and infrastructure through subsidence. As tree roots expand underground, they can displace and dry out soil, causing the ground to sink unevenly. This leads to cracks and structural damage in foundations and walls.

On the other hand, construction work can also harm existing trees. Excavation, soil compaction, and landscaping changes during construction can damage tree root systems. Heavy equipment and materials storage under trees compresses soil, reducing water and air availability to roots. Careful planning is required to minimize these conflicts. Arborists can suggest preventative measures like root pruning, barrier walls, and root bridging to protect foundations. Meanwhile, fencing off tree root zones and avoiding root damage through excavation techniques like hydro-vacuuming can help preserve urban trees throughout construction. With proper precautions, trees and construction can coexist in our built environment. Councils will often specify a root protection zone as part of planning conditions to protect tree roots.

 

Trees & Wildlife

Trees provide important wildlife habitat in urban areas. Trees host many bird, mammal, and insect species, like squirrels, bats, and spiders. Pruning dead wood while preserving cavities and nesting sites helps maintain habitat value.

When planning construction projects near trees in the UK, it is important to consider legal protections for any wildlife species living in or near the trees. Many bird and bat species are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Their nesting sites and roosting cavities are critical to conserve. Any trimming or tree removal should be reviewed to avoid harming protected species, especially during nesting seasons when disturbance should be minimized. Consultation with wildlife agencies like Natural England may be required to survey for species presence and develop mitigation and monitoring approaches. Additionally, many areas have local tree preservation orders that can limit tree removal and construction impacts. Proper planning and wildlife surveys can prevent violations of wildlife and tree protection laws, while allowing necessary construction to proceed under approved conditions.

 

When To Prune Trees

Pruning trees is an important process to help keep them healthy, at the right size and looking their best. Knowing when to prune your trees can help ensure their continued health and growth, while also helping to maintain their shape and structure.

Different types of trees require pruning at different times of year. For example, fruit trees are best pruned during the winter months when they are dormant, as this can help to encourage new growth and also improve the quality of the fruit. Similarly, ornamental trees are typically pruned in the winter months as well, which helps to maintain their shape and structure. Tree surgeons can see the structure of a tree better when there are no leaves.

Talk to Arbex today to ensure that your trees stay healthy and continue to grow and thrive over time.

 

Planting New Trees

To ensure you give a new tree the best chance of establishing itself and avoid problems in the future as it grows, there are some things to consider.

 

Choosing a Tree

  • Decide what purpose you want the tree to serve – shade, fruit, ornamental, etc. This will help narrow down your options.
  • Consider the mature size of the tree and make sure you have adequate space for it to grow. Avoid planting large trees too close to buildings or power lines.
  • Choose a tree suited to your planting zone and soil conditions. An arborist can provide advice on this. Native species are often a good bet.
  • If you want an ornamental tree, research ones with interesting shapes, colourful leaves, nice flowers or other desired features.
  • Young trees are available as ‘bare root’ or potted. Bare root trees are normally cheaper but have a higher failure rate. It is always best to plant young trees in the winter.

 

Planting a Tree

  • Dig a hole 2-3 times wider than the root ball but no deeper than the height of the root ball. The wide hole encourages horizontal root growth.
  • Carefully remove the tree from its container, gently loosen circled roots and place in the hole. The top of the root ball should be level with the surrounding soil.
  • Backfill the hole with the original soil. Tamp down firmly to remove air pockets but do not compact too tightly.
  • Water thoroughly after planting to saturate the root ball and surrounding soil.
  • Stake the tree if necessary to keep it upright in windy conditions. Avoid using wire or rope that could damage the bark. Tree ties are available that hold the young tree securely.

 

Caring for New Trees

  • Water young trees regularly for the first two years, about 2-3 times per week. Provide about 10 gallons per week.
  • Apply 2-4 inches of organic mulch around the base out to the tree’s drip line to retain moisture. Avoid piling mulch against the trunk.
  • Wrap tree trunks with commercial guards or hardware cloth to protect from rodents and weed trimmers.
  • Prune only dead or damaged branches in the first few years. Allow the tree to become established.
  • Fertilize in early spring starting the third year after planting. Use a slow-release tree fertilizer.

Following these guidelines will give new trees the best start and help them grow into healthy specimens.

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