Digging, grading, and trenching associated with construction and underground utility installation can be quite damaging to roots. A tree’s root system can extend horizontally a distance 1-3 times greater than the height of a tree. It is important to cut as far away from a tree as possible to prevent damage that can compromise tree health and stability. Cutting under a tree’s crown can reduce tree vitality. Cutting roots close to the trunk severely damage a tree and limit its ability to stay upright in storms.
Smothering Roots by Adding Soil
The majority of fine water-and-mineral-absorbing roots are in the upper 6-12 inches of soil where oxygen and moisture levels tend to be best suited for growth. Even a few inches of soil piled over the root system to change the grade can smother fine roots and eventually lead to larger root death.
Exposure to the Elements
Trees in a forest grow as a community, protecting each other from the elements. The trees grow tall with long, straight trunks and high canopies. Removing neighboring trees during construction expose the remaining tree to increased sunlight and wind, which may lead to sunscald or breakage of limbs and stems