Building Near Trees: Do’s and Don’ts

If you already have trees on your property, you might wonder about the best practices for adding new buildings. Perhaps you just bought land and you’d like to build a home. Or, maybe you’d like to renovate and expand an existing structure. Regardless of the situation, it’s important to know the do’s and don’ts of building near trees.

This will ensure the structure is built in a way that protects and preserves the structure of each tree. Besides, the last thing you want to do is damage the precious plants during construction!

Before starting your new project, consider these guidelines for building near trees.


Properly Prune Trees

When it’s time to bring in the construction equipment, you might want to prune your trees to make more space. But if you’re not 100% sure how to trim the branches, this simple move may cause significant harm.

That’s why it’s crucial to practice proper tree pruning techniques. Incorrect pruning can create “wounds” that increase the tree’s vulnerability to harmful insects. Plus, if sap leaks out the wounds, the tree will be robbed of nutrients.A certified arborist can make sure your trees are properly pruned before construction.


Control Nearby Traffic

Prior to building a new structure, make a plan to protect the tree and its roots.

It’s generally recommended to build a fence around the dripline, or the outermost circumference of the canopy’s edge. (This measurement is called the “dripline” because this is where water drips from the canopy to the ground). An even better move is to place the fence further out from the dripline.

By adding a fence around your tree, you can limit physical damage and keep construction machinery away.


Consider Designing Around the Tree

More and more architects are incorporating existing trees into homes, decks, and commercial buildings. This means the trees can stay practically untouched! For example, a deck can be built with a circular opening around a tree.

Of course, this depends on the type of tree and what you are planning to build. Your arborist, builder, and architect can work together to create a design that works for your needs.



Trim the Roots

You might be tempted to trim the tree’s roots in order to make more space. After all, the roots will simply re-grow around the building… right?

Well, not quite. An established root system is extremely complex. If certain roots are removed, the tree may lose its stability, resulting in damage or failure later on. Incorrect root cutting can also deprive the tree of nutrients and water.

Before snipping the roots, consult a professional tree service like Friendly Tree. A certified arborist will be able to determine which roots are safe to cut.


Add Concrete on Roots

It’s not recommended to add concrete (or stones) on an established root system. This can rob the roots of oxygen, nutrients, and water, which will ultimately lead to failure.

For best results, work with a professional concrete company. They’ll know how to handle the roots in a way that allows the tree to thrive.


Dig Trenches Too Close

When building a new structure, you’ll likely need an irrigation system. However, digging trenches within the dripline — or near the tree trunk — can interfere with almost half of the tree’s roots.

Fortunately, it’s possible to dig trenches without harming the roots. The best option is to dig them outside of the drip line, but you can also trench toward the trunk and tunnel underneath. A third option is to trench a third into the dripline and connect the trenches by tunnelling.

There are many do’s and don’ts of building near trees. But with a professional tree service like Friendly Tree, you can take proper precautions before starting construction.


Our certified arborists in New Jersey can make sure the process leaves your trees unharmed. With over 27 years of experience, our team knows precisely what to look for! We’re also happy to provide professional tree services, including tree removal, tree planting, and more.

Have questions? Contact Friendly Tree at (973) 678-8888 to get a quote or schedule a consultation.