Construction and renovation

Preserving trees during renovation projects

Home renovation projects can be disruptive. The trees closest to your home may be impacted by equipment, supplies, additional foot traffic and other necessities of construction, all of which can threaten their health. When planning a home renovation project, add one more item to your to-do list: have a plan on how to preserve your trees by protecting its roots, trunk and branches.


Protect the roots

You can easily forget the importance of a tree’s root system because it’s something you can’t see. While a root system can support a mighty oak tree, it’s also very susceptible to damage. Construction and excavation should be kept away from the tree’s roots. Typically, the roots extend at least to the edge of the drip zone, which is the area that the tree’s canopy covers. It’s also very important to avoid running heavy equipment over the tree’s roots, as the compaction can compromise the tree.

If your tree is in a place where construction will impact the root zone, it’s a good idea to consult an arborist. An arborist can advise you on ways to reduce damage during construction and mitigate the damage afterwards. These steps may include addressing compaction with an air spade, root pruning, and canopy thinning.

Protect the trunk

Tree trunks are easy to damage. All it takes is a glancing blow from a machine operator and a deep cut can open up in the bark, which can be an invitation for disease and insects. Keeping everyone away from trees is your best bet, therefore erect a temporary barrier fence to help protect your tree.

Protect the branches

During your renovation project, the most effective way to protect the branches is to keep workers and equipment far away. If that’s not feasible, the next best thing, assuming it won’t harm the health or appearance of the tree, is to prune any branches that will conflict with the work area. Just like the tree trunk, any wound is an opportunity for insects and disease to get inside. When you reduce the risk of potential damage to your tree, you are protecting your tree.

When planning your home renovation, consider the impact on your existing landscape. Your trees are an integral part of your home, they add value to your property and are most beneficial to the environment. Consult a landscape professional before the work begins, proper planning will go a long way to ensure the health of your trees.

You’re still not convinced about the need to protect your trees during renovations? Here’s what the Côte Saint-Luc zoning by-law (by-law 2217) states:

1-12-1 During construction or landscaping work, any Tree susceptible to be damaged must be protected. The following precautionary measures shall be taken:

  1. A fence of at least 1.2 m in height must be installed and maintained in good condition throughout the work in order to form a protection perimeter around the Tree Safety belt;
  2. Tree trunks located near or inside the soil perimeter where an encroachment is required must be protected against physical damages by covering them with planks fixed from the exterior by means of two plastic or steel bands and by placing two rubber bands between the planks and the trunk;
  3. During permanent lowering or raising of the natural ground level, the measures provided in Section 5.4.2 of the 2001 version of the standard of the Bureau de normalisation du Quebec entitled: NQ 0605-100-IX must be applied to minimize loss of roots.

Protect your trees.

You may be able to escape your home renovation project, your trees however cannot.