Tree Crown Reduction: Protecting Trees During Construction Projects

Introduction: At Kempston Tree Surgeons, we understand the importance of safeguarding trees during construction projects. Trees add significant value to properties, providing aesthetic appeal, environmental benefits, and natural shade. However, construction activities can pose a threat to their health and stability. One crucial technique to mitigate these risks is tree crown reduction. This blog post will explore how tree crown reduction can protect trees during construction projects and offer practical tips to ensure their well-being.

Understanding Tree Crown Reduction

Tree crown reduction involves selectively removing branches and foliage from the upper part of a tree. This process helps reduce the tree’s overall size, weight, and wind resistance, lowering the risk of damage during construction activities. The crown reduction also promotes better light penetration and air circulation, which is essential for the tree’s health.

Importance of Tree Crown Reduction During Construction

1. Minimising Physical Damage

Construction equipment and activities can cause physical damage to trees, such as broken branches and wounds to the trunk. Reducing the tree’s crown can minimise the likelihood of branches being struck by machinery or obstructing construction work.

2. Reducing Root Disturbance

Large, heavy crowns exert significant weight on a tree’s root system. Roots may be damaged or compacted during construction, affecting the tree’s stability and health. Crown reduction alleviates some of this weight, reducing stress on the roots and making the tree less susceptible to damage.

3. Preventing Windthrow

Construction sites often involve the removal of nearby vegetation, which can leave remaining trees more exposed to wind. Trees with dense crowns are more prone to windthrow (being uprooted by wind). By thinning the crown, you can reduce wind resistance and the risk of the tree being uprooted during strong winds.

4. Enhancing Safety

Construction projects often involve workers and heavy machinery operating near trees. Crown reduction helps maintain a safer environment by reducing the risk of falling branches, which can cause injuries or damage property.

Practical Tips for Tree Crown Reduction During Construction

1. Conduct a Pre-Construction Assessment

Thoroughly assessing your property’s trees is essential before starting any construction work. Identify which trees will be affected by the project and evaluate their health and stability. This assessment will help determine the extent of crown reduction required and any additional measures needed to protect the trees.

2. Plan for Tree Protection Zones

Establish Tree Protection Zones (TPZ) around the trees you wish to preserve. These zones should be marked and fenced off to prevent construction from encroaching on the tree’s root zone and crown. The size of the TPZ should be proportional to the tree’s size, typically extending to the drip line (the outermost edge of the tree’s canopy).

3. Collaborate With Arborists and Construction Teams

Effective communication between arborists and construction teams is crucial for protecting trees during construction projects. Work with professional arborists, like those at Kempston Tree Surgeons, to develop a tree protection plan that includes crown reduction and other necessary measures. Ensure that construction workers know the plan and the importance of adhering to it.

4. Schedule Crown Reduction at the Right Time

Timing is critical when performing crown reduction. Ideally, this should be done during the tree’s dormant season (late autumn to early spring) to minimise stress and promote faster healing. However, if construction is imminent, crown reduction can be performed as needed, provided it is done carefully and correctly.

5. Use Proper Pruning Techniques

When performing crown reduction, proper pruning techniques are essential to avoid damaging the tree. To promote healthy healing, make clean cuts just outside the branch collar (the swollen area where the branch attaches to the trunk). Avoid removing too much foliage at once; it’s generally recommended not to exceed 25% of the tree’s crown in a single session.

6. Monitor Tree Health Post-Construction

After the construction project is complete, continue to monitor the health of the trees. Look for signs of stress or damage, such as wilting leaves, dead branches, or fungal growth. Regular inspections by a professional arborist can help identify and address issues early, ensuring the long-term health and stability of the trees.
Conclusion: Tree crown reduction is vital for protecting trees during construction projects. By carefully planning and executing crown reduction, you can minimise physical damage, reduce root disturbance, prevent windthrow, and enhance safety on your construction site.

This is a photo of a wood area which is having multiple trees removed. The trees have been cut up into logs and are stacked in a row. Kempston Tree Surgeons

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