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Soil Geek talks about root damage

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Soil Geek

Just last week I found myself at a clients’ home where several trees had been damaged during a construction project.  As a person that takes care of trees for a living, I have a tendency to think that everybody is aware of how delicate trees are despite their rugged appearance.  This is very rarely the case though.  Interestingly enough, a very reputable landscape firm had been trusted to protect the trees during construction, and were under the impression they had done exactly that.  The homeowner was actually the party that was thinking that there might be damage to these big beautiful trees.  I love clients that love trees, by the way! The representative of the landscape firm (who was comfortable throwing around his credentials) assessed the site with me and was sure there would be minimal damage.

We both (along with the concerned client) looked on as a 10-wheel dump truck, loaded with soil, drove over the roots of two 50+ foot tall trees.  One tree with a trunk not 4 feet away from the tire of the truck that weighed easily in excess of 15 tons.  This was one of a few hundred trips driven over the badly crushed roots of these trees.  I cringed as I watched this knowing it would take a tremendous effort, and a very carefully crafted plan (and some good karma) to save these trees.  My counterpart shrugged it off and said the trees should be fine.  Over 50% of the roots of these trees had been impacted by construction, how could he say that?!  Especially since he holds some of the same credentials I hold!  I couldn’t believe we didn’t see the same thing.

This was only one of several insults trees had been subjected to during this project. Although I love a challenge, it would have been so much better for the trees (and the client) to prep for construction and steward the trees through the project, rather than have to put on my Superman cape and come to the rescue!  Trees are rugged and delicate simultaneously.  This is kind of like football players.  They all have that rough and tumble appearance until they are at the podium announcing retirement.  The delicate side shows up when they are a bit vulnerable.

Paul Wagner….Soil Geek

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