Tag Archive | fail

Tree Protection Gone Wrong

I work for a design / build landscape construction company. Part of my job is to pull permits for the installations of the hardscapes (patios, driveways, walks, pergolas, lighting, etc) along with tree permits. For me, the tree permits are the ones I’m most involved with. Sometimes, I am the arborist that visits the property before construction to determine the condition, size* and type of trees on the lot. I look at what the architect has designed for the property and determine how it will effect the trees around the site. I then produce what is called a tree survey. These surveys determine which trees stay and which trees go. My tree survey then goes to the city to determine how many inches of trees will have to be removed from the property. *Size is determined by measuring the width of the trunk at breast height or ‘Diameter at Breast Height’ (DBH), which has been determined to be 4′ 5″ (1.38m).

The city forester will look at the survey and calculate how many trees were in decent condition, of good quality or of decent size were removed. This number will translate into an inch amount the client will need to replace on their property or pay the tree inch fees. Many times, the return amount could be in upwards of 100″. Not only do the clients need to return 100″ to the property, every municipality has a different list to follow for the trees that actually count towards tree return inches. Many of these trees are native; oaks, hackberry, sycamore, tupelo, tulip trees and spruce are commonly on the approved list. However, many of my clients request chanticleer pear lined driveways and screening arborvitae are not on the list.

The trees on the survey that are marked to stay must be maintained to be able to survive construction. ‘Tree Fencing’ must be installed around the trees that are to remain. Placement of this fencing is usually 1′ foot away from the tree for each inch of DBH. As you can see in the photos below, this fencing is clearly not as far away from the trunk as it should be..  my guess these trees are about 18″ DBH requiring 18′ around the them. Let’s ice this cake with a bunch of construction waste leaning up against the trunk. The last photo shows a large amount of soil piled up on a nearby tree.

Usually, the city forester has to visit the site and approve the location of the tree fencing. I can’t imagine this was the original location (I did not do this survey). As you can see, there are many ruts from construction equipment all around the fencing. This traffic compacts the soil and suffocates the roots of the trees. It’s a slow death for the tree. A few years after the home is built, these trees will start declining and most likely will need to be removed. As these are very close to the foundation of the new home, along with being fairly large, it will be a costly removal.

Hopefully, this information will be helpful to anyone having any construction done and want to keep their trees!


Β© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Landscape Fail ~ Tree Topping

camel bad hair

Good god man, what happened to your hair??

Tree topping is a serious NO!

I mean, mulch volcanoes are pretty bad, but anyone can pile mulch up against the trunk. Tree topping, however involves someone that knows how to climb trees, thus ass-u-ming they may have been around professionals that would know how very wrong this is.

Tree topping is when the leader (the lead/tallest limb) is abruptly pruned and/or the tree is heavily incorrectly pruned. Unless the tree is very young and a new leader can be trained to grow upright, there may be structural problems in the near future.

The tree will try to recover from it’s loss of leaves by growing ‘sucker branches’ which are grown in defense from the leaf loss. Sucker branches don’t make flowers, so they are not aesthetic and serve very little use for the tree. These branches are from buds that had been held back from growing by the tree because they were too close to the barks surface to attach correctly, thus they tend to break off in the slightest wind.

Trees that have been fully pruned like this don’t have the ability to compartmentalize all the wounds efficiently, causing the larger limbs to become unstable and fall.

Many times the tree’s bark will become sun scald which opens up the bark to cankers and other pathogens.



There are safe and humane ways to reduce the size of your trees, by using ‘Crown Reduction’ methods.

crown reduction
Β© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl