Wooded lots are an added value when selecting a site for building a home, just as mature trees add appeal to an already existing home. Homes that are constructed in the midst of trees take advantage of the aesthetic and environmental value of the property. The cost and care of preventing tree damage during construction protects those assets. Careful planning and preparation before construction begins may help to preserve and protect existing trees from unnecessary damage.
Trees vary in their ability to tolerate damage. Among the most sensitive are red oak, white oak, and sugar maple. These species will require more protection during construction. More tolerant trees include bur oak, silver maple, poplars, and willows. In general, younger trees are able to withstand the changes due to construction better than larger, mature trees.
The key to tree preservation is protecting the root system from damage. The roots of trees are concentrated in the top several inches of soil. They spread at least as far as the branches, often much farther. Disturbing the soil around a tree will cause serious damage to the root system, resulting in decline or death of the tree. Excavation, grade changes, traffic, and material storage (including soil) can all damage roots. Even when trees are protected from direct disturbance, building in a wooded area imposes many indirect changes in the environment. These changes result in increased stress on the trees.