Monday, August 10, 2009

How To Kill An Oak Tree: Construction Damage

Like I always say, I can't stand to see people who are obviously trying to kill an oak tree doing a half-hearted job.

This gorgeous bur oak is located just south of my town of Northfield, MN on the future site of a brand new KFC. (Memo to city planners: We need a new KFC like we need a hole in the head. What we need is some good PIZZA. But I digress...)

Click on the image to enlarge. A token effort has been made not to disturb the soil under the tree, but as you can see the heavy equipment has been driving and grading well inside the drip line, and cement culverts are busily compacting the soil.

Obviously somone thought about protecting this tree. How much better it would have been if they had put up a perimeter fence 10 feet outside the drip line. How much better it would have been if they had consulted a qualified arborist to draft a simple tree preservation plan.

Because we know how this story ends. The new KFC will be built, and the tree will look fine. For a while. Then next year or the year after it will start showing signs of stress or die back. Then, 3 to 5 years from now the tree will be dead and someone will spend hundreds - or thousands - of dollars removing it (certainly a helluva lot more than it would have cost to have an arborist draft a protection plan). An no one will make the connection between the damage that happened during construction - the soil compaction, the re-grading - with the tree's death a few year later.

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