Know Which Trees to Save or Remove from a Building Site

Marsh Sunrise Blog 2

Before starting construction, you need to decide which trees are worth saving and which ones need to be removed. It’s a hard choice.

It’s tough to decide when to save or remove trees from a building site. Trees on your building site can be a blessing. They add beauty and character. But sometimes, they can be a problem and a surprise expense if you don’t know how to deal with them. Most of us view trees as an asset on any property. They beautify your land. They will provide shade and visual interest to a new or remodeled house. We all like to preserve trees. And the National Arbor Day Foundation has plenty of useful information about tree preservation. 

A tree that you think is terrific might actually be diseased and only have a few more years to live. How can you know? If you are like me and are not an arborist, you might not be able to see the telltale signs of a tree in distress.

Building your house or building your addition around trees and protecting them from harm during construction can be difficult and adds cost to any project. If it’s a great tree, then the cost and effort is worth it.

But taking all those precautions and incurring added expense to save a troubled tree would make no sense. Still, people do it all the time because they don’t know the tree is “troubled.” They end up watching helplessly as their cherished tree slowly dies away.

And that’s not the end of the expense. Removing a tree at the beginning of construction is quite inexpensive. The excavation contractor will simply knock it down and haul it away. But once your house or addition is complete, the cost of tree removal goes up fast. Often, it requires a tree climber and a carefully orchestrated removal process so as not to damage nearby landscaping and your newly built house or addition. It costs a lot more to take down a tree after construction is complete than it does to take the tree down during construction.

Before you go to the expense of protecting any of your trees, you should have your trees professionally evaluated by a certified arborist, like the people at Bartlett Tree Experts. For little or no cost, they will come to your property and examine all your trees. They’ll point out what trees have only a short life ahead. If your prized tree is in danger of disease or insect infestation, they may still be able to save it with proper treatment. Their expertise can help you decide if you should save or remove trees from a building site. Most healthy trees that are near a building construction area will suffer some stress during the construction. A tree expert can show you how to limit that impact. A feeding and watering program prior to the start of construction, possibly combined with correct pruning, can help a tree tolerate the disturbance better.

Saving trees is an admirable goal. But sometimes it makes sense to take a realistic, educated look at your trees and remove the troubled trees at the initial clearing of the site when the cost and difficulty is low.

Let an arborist be your guide. You can buy a good-sized specimen tree to replace one you need to remove with the money you’ll save. That’s what I did with a beautiful Southern Live Oak my wife and I “gave” ourselves as a Christmas present last year.

By the way, you can help us out. We are working hard to grow our audience. Please tell your friends about Designing Your Perfect House.

If you liked this tip, you can find lots of helpful advice in my bestselling book, Designing Your Perfect House and in The Well-Centered Home. And I welcome any comments.

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Bill Hirsch | Architect

Bill Hirsch

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