I’m currently working on a project where we have few trees on site that are subject to a Tree Protection Order (TPO). Obviously I need to be absolutely sure that I create the new garden in a way that will ensure that the trees aren’t damaged so I’ve been taking advice from a professional arborist to ensure that we’re doing things right.
But, even if the trees aren’t subject to a TPO it’s still part of my role as designer to ensure that the creation of the new garden isn’t going to compromise any of the existing trees on site, particularly if they are integral to the design. It shouldn’t only be protected trees that we take extra care of.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve driven past a site where building works have taken place and beneath the most gorgeous mature trees are piles of rubble and builder’s waste or deliveries of materials waiting to be used on site. Sometimes the digger is parked there overnight or the area is used to mix up concrete and cement.
I can’t stress how important it is to protect the root zone of any trees you want to keep in the garden. If you’re embarking on a garden project it’s essential that the root protection zone of any trees you want to keep are cordoned off for the duration of the project, especially at the beginning when there will be heavy machinery on site.
Trees and plants are pretty robust and I think they try very hard to stay alive, even in the most difficult of circumstances. But if you want to keep the trees because you love them, it’s got to be worth the effort to keep them as safe as you can.
As a general rule you can estimate the root protection zone by working out the diameter of the tree at 1.5m above the ground and then multiplying this number by 12 which will give you a circle around the tree in which the majority of roots can be found.
But if you’re unsure, it’s worth enlisting the help and advice of a qualified arboriculturalist who can advise you during the design process to ensure that the trees that will be integral to the success of your new garden will stay that way for years to come.
If you’re embarking on a house building project, the same will apply and in some cases you’ll also have to involve the planning office, especially in the case of protected trees which may affect what you’re allowed to do with your house.
But essentially, if we want out trees to thrive and enhance our gardens then we need to do everything in our power to ensure that they flourish for years to come.