Building on land that has preexisting plants requires an analysis that should not be taken lightly. Many times, when focusing exclusively on issues of architecture, budget and time, the distribution of vegetation is neglected to achieve harmony of the elements: the building in its environment.
There are several practices, such as conservation, transplants, pruning, logging, maintenance of green spaces, etc. that you have to know and consider in advance to make better decisions. This article invites the reader to reflect on what should be done with trees in a construction site: do we have to root them or cut them and let them dry?
Vegetation is an excellent environmental ally that provides multiple benefits to urban centers. One of the main questions that arise after building a home is: What to do with the trees that are nearby?
Whether the construction is done in an open or closed neighborhood, it is usual that there is some type of forest on the lot, plot or land of the project on which to decide what to do.
While there are architects who argue that it is necessary to root them to avoid future problems in the foundations of the new home; others maintain that this is not necessary, just cut them and let them dry and decompose, thus contributing their nutrients to the soil.
In addition, it should be considered that, if the plants are not pruned, they interfere with the visual of the place (a condition that can lead to possible insecurity).
For these and other reasons, tree trimming and management of inhabitable places should be treated responsibly and strategically planned. Caring for the environment is a task that you must start at home. The natural balance that vegetation provides is key to sustainability, both in the short and long term.
But those are not the only options that exist. Some organizations defend the idea of protection and conservation of trees and also defend the implementation of alternative solutions when undertaking the task of building in spaces where plants preexist.
Many times, the works need all trees to be removed, and other times they just need periodic maintenance of pruning and watering so that they do not have to look for water beyond their perimeter and thus control their developments.
Rethinking what to do with the surrounding vegetation in building projects is necessary to make the best choice in each case.
Conservation of preexisting vegetation
At present, awareness is being raised about the consequences of indiscriminate felling of trees. According to UN calculations, 13 million hectares of forest area are lost every year. And if this were not enough, there are 79,000 tons of CO2 that are emitted into the atmosphere in every minute that passes.
Given this panorama, contemporary architects and builders are beginning to integrate the building of houses into endemic vegetation (without altering it).
Organic architecture is presented as a viable option for plants to become the main protagonists and, in this way, measures are implemented so that it is the construction sites that adapt to the trees, and not vice versa.
Transplants and architectural works around trees
Transplants are traumatic processes for trees and very complex to execute. It must be done taking the necessary precautions so that the process generates the least possible impact both at the foliage level and at the roots.
This option (the transplant) option is usually selected to conserve trees that have particular characteristics valued. However, the best solution for them to have more chances of survival is to leave them at the place of origin. Despite the changes that may occur in that space, it is more likely that they retain their vigor, anchoring capacity and water absorption, etc.
Building plans should be able to answer this question: Is it advisable to include preexisting trees in the terrain in the architectural design? If the project decision contemplates the existence of these trees, there are several factors that must be studied and calculated properly to successfully execute the harmonious coexistence of all the elements.
Trees are living beings, and as such their development depends on the resources, they have available. The architect will have to anticipate how these plants will survive in the new conditions imposed by the construction and, also, assess whether these living beings will affect the incipient infrastructure in any way.
Although the advantages provided by trees are innumerable (thermal control, self-repair, structural support, landscape integration, absorption of specific pollutants and CO2, integration into ecosystems, etc.). However, they can also be a factor in future problems in foundations, water systems and household drains, as well as in the control of pests and animal species that inhabit it.
In addition, it is presented as a widely used intermediate measure, when what is desired is to maintain green spaces without having to perform total deforestation.
Logging is only advised when other tree management alternatives have been exhausted. It must respect the laws in force that protect certain species and certain trees according to their age and size. It is important after logging, replanting with other non-aggressive species taking care of the distances between them.
The presence or absence of roots in the ground can lead to certain foundation conditions that should not be ignored. Three adverse effects that may arise are Wedge effect ruptures, desiccation of the soil and decompression of the soil for the disappearance of tree roots.
Breaks that are produced by the wedge effect are perceived, especially when the roots of the trees lift the sidewalks. This happens in humid places since that encourages more roots to develop.
To prevent trees from expanding excessively, it is advisable to water them regularly, so that you do not need to seek hydration in other remote places and thus prevent their root systems from growing.
It is essential to choose the most appropriate method for the root system of the tree species that you want to suppress. There are several options, and it is necessary to carefully evaluate and consider each of them. Although it is best to be able to consult with experts in these areas to know promptly what is most convenient in each particular situation.
In summary, when carrying out urban reforestation and distributing trees in the field, aesthetic and functional qualities must be considered: specific form, foliage behavior, susceptibility to pests and diseases, bearing, magnitude, growth rate, longevity, frost resistance, presence of flowers, type of fruits, presence of thorns, allergenic character, etc.
The options presented here are not the only ways to manage trees in construction sites. It is advisable to go-to experts in this type of work to have a more accurate perspective on what to do in each circumstance with the botanical elements present in the field to be modified.
Are you thinking of building? Are you already embarked on a construction site? How would you manage the distribution of trees on your land? When you have to clean a lot for a construction project, should you take out the trees at the root or just cut them and let the stumps dry? Do you need forestry professionals to advise you on this?