Construction Responsibly: A Guide to Tree-Friendly Construction

Trees are an essential element of any landscape, providing numerous benefits such as clean air, shade, habitat for wildlife, and increased property value. As urban areas continue to expand, it is vital to strike a balance between development and preserving our natural environment. 

If you’re planning a construction project near trees, it is crucial to be aware of the potential impacts and the best practices to minimize harm to these living assets. In this article, we will discuss the do’s and don’ts of building near trees to ensure a safe coexistence.


1. Consult a Certified Arborist or Tree Care Professional

Before starting any construction job near trees, consult with a certified arborist or tree care professional to assess the potential impacts on the trees and get guidance on how to protect them. Arborists can provide valuable input on tree preservation methods, proper pruning techniques, and other measures to ensure the long-term health of the trees.

2. Identify Tree Protection Zones

A tree protection zone (TPZ) is an area surrounding a tree dedicated to its preservation and protection during the job. TPZs should be established for all trees that will be impacted by the job and should extend a minimum of one foot for each inch of the tree’s diameter at breast height (DBH). This distance helps protect the tree’s critical root zone – the area where the majority of the tree’s feeder roots are found – from damage during construction.

3. Install Tree Protection Barriers

Once the TPZs have been established, install temporary fencing, or other barriers to keep construction workers and equipment out of these sensitive areas and help protect the tree and its roots from damage during construction. Tree protection barriers should be sturdy and visible, and remain in place for the jobs duration.

4. Employ Sensitive Job Techniques

When building near trees, use job techniques that minimize soil compaction, root damage, and disturbance to the tree’s critical root zone. This may include using hand tools instead of heavy machinery, installing permeable surfaces for driveways and walkways, or employing pier-and-beam foundations that elevate the structure above the ground and the tree’s root system.

5. Monitor Tree Health during the job

Regularly inspect the trees throughout the construction process to ensure they remain healthy and free from damage. If tree branches pose a risk to the safety of the job site or need to be removed for other reasons, look for tree trimming services to perform the necessary pruning. Proper pruning techniques can minimize the stress on the tree and promote its long-term health.


1. Trench or Excavate within the TPZ

Avoid trenching, digging, or excavating within the TPZ, as this can severely damage the tree’s root system leading to decline or death. If utilities must pass through the TPZ, consider using tunneling or directional drilling methods to minimize impact on the tree roots.

2. Don’t Alter the Soil Grade

Changing the soil grade near a tree can cause damage to the roots and lead to tree decline. Avoid adding or removing soil within the TPZ, and if it is unavoidable, consult an arborist for guidance.

3. Pile Materials or Park Vehicles in the TPZ

Piling job materials or parking vehicles within the TPZ can cause soil compaction, restricting the tree’s access to water and nutrients, leading to stress and potential decline. Designate areas away from the TPZ for material storage and vehicle parking.

4. Attach Anything to the Tree

Don’t attach any signs, fences, or other materials to the tree, as this can cause injury or introduce pathogens. Additionally, refrain from using the tree as an anchor point for job equipment, as this can cause damage to the tree’s bark and cambium layer, which is responsible for the tree’s growth and nutrient transportation.

5. Remove or Prune Trees without Permission

If a tree is in the way of your project, explore alternatives to removal, such as adjusting the building’s footprint or design, or relocating the tree. Check with your local municipality to determine if any tree protection bylaws or permit requirements are in place. 

Unauthorized tree removal or pruning may result in fines or other penalties. Tree-removing services should always be the last resort, 

6. Forget Post-job Care

After the job is completed, continue to monitor the health of the trees and provide proper care, including watering, mulching, and pruning as needed. Trees may take several years to fully recover from construction-related stress, so ongoing maintenance is essential in ensuring their long-term survival and health.


Building near trees can be a delicate process, but through these instructions, you can secure a tree-friendly construction project that benefits both your property and the environment. Take the time to consult with professional tree services, establish and respect tree protection zones, and employ sensitive job techniques.

Build your dream home while saving the earth with the help of Eastern Tree & Construction. We are the leading professional construction and tree services in Birmingham for over three decades. We offer 24/7 tree trimming, drainage solutions, and more. Contact us today to make your life easier.

Leave a Comment