We know through bitter experience how devastating it is to lose a tree from a renovation. In spite of strict instructions our 40 year old Catalpa tree was severely damaged by a trench dug right through the root system. Not only did we lose our most precious tree we lost the protection from the western sun that now bores through the kitchen window.
There are strict guidelines about the protection of trees on building and development sites and you should seek advice from a qualified arborist to determine the impacts of any works. Failure to observe these laws may lead to prosecution. Before you commence any building whether it’s a DIY footpath or a major reno you should consider how you will protect your trees:
- Ask an arborist to determine the current and potential root zone, trunk size and branch width of your trees. This will avoid the heart break of destroying your tree during the building process and the potential for tree roots to damage any structure or unwanted branches getting in the way of your house.
- Fertilise trees with a slow release fertiliser.
- Mulch the entire root zone of your trees at least 5cm high.
- Water regularly before, during and for three years after the building process.
- If possible work in cooler months so trees aren’t under stress.
- Fence around the root zone to ensure the soil isn’t compacted.
- Ensure no machinery or heavy equipment touches the root protection zone.
- Dispose of chemicals such as cement, paint, limestone off site and make sure no chemical spills into the soil.
- If you change any levels or alter the drainage monitor your tree to see how this impacts it and make sure you compensate with extra or less watering as required.
- Monitor your trees for dieback, scorched leaves, wilting, unseasonal leaf loss. These are all signs of a tree under stress.
- Ensure an arborist checks your trees before and after the works and annually for the next five years.