Symptoms of unhealthy or damaged trees
Three trees in various stages of decline following home construction four years previously. Top dieback and abundant “water sprouts” are evidence of damaged root systems, opening of a once forested area, and droughts.
We are soon approaching the best time for home owners and others who may be interested in the overall health of their landscape trees to be looking more closely at the tree crowns. This is especially true for homeowners who have homes that have been built within once forested areas and even more so if the home had been built within the past 10 years. During the home construction process, lots of activities take place that leave no obvious evidence of hidden damages to standing trees… especially as new lawns begin to mature and planted ornamentals take on their prominent roles by adding to the landscape. But those trees that were present as natural components of a pre-existing original forest over-story may be in the process of slow decline and their continuing dieback and internal decay causes them to become hazardous for many years before their ultimate death.
Many damaging activities take their toll on trees during home construction within a once totally forested area. Some of the more obvious damages are caused by cutting of roots for new roads, cutting off roots of trees left standing too close to home foundations and clearing driveway entrances. Additional injuries may persist from mechanical wounds due to heavy equipment scraping the bark at the base of trees, and breaking of lower branches that may be left hanging with ragged stubs. Other causes that are far less obvious as the years pass from the time of construction may include former abuse of tree root systems by parking of heavy machinery and even smaller trucks under the shade of nearby standing trees, piling of heavy building materials such as bricks, concrete blocks, steel and even large piles of gravel or excavated soil causing root breakage and soil compaction. Even more difficult to detect is the addition of too much soil over root systems during grading of the lawn; including the use of heavy grading equipment during the lawn installation. Simply adding or taking away several inches of natural soils to accommodate desired elevations causes changes in root health. In some instances, the summertime heat reflected off the roof of dark shingled homes up and through the overhanging canopies of remaining and formerly shaded forest trees leads to large limb and even tree death.
To read the entire story, see the Sept. 26 edition of The Central Virginian.