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tree root damage from install?

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by justgeorge, Aug 12, 2008.

  1. justgeorge

    justgeorge LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 353

    Had an install job back in the spring where I had to run the vib plow about 4' from an older cedar tree. Going thru there I raised the blade so I probably wasn't more than 6 or 8" down. I don't recall hitting any roots that I could "feel". Now the tree is dying and the customer's landscaper is blaming the irrigation install Quote "they might as
    well have just taken a chain saw and cut the tree off".

    Sure I cut some roots, but that far from the trunk and only down one side and only 8" deep I couldn't have hit more than 5% of the roots. But, I'm not a tree expert.


  2. CAPT Stream Rotar

    CAPT Stream Rotar LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,192

    What were you installing 4 feet in the ground?

    and yes I have personally seen it happen with some fruit trees.
  3. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,219

    It's always the irrigation companies fault. Tree dies - our fault. Grass dies - our fault. Water in basement - our fault. Hole in the roof - our fault. Cracked concrete - our fault. Dead dog - our fault. I have had people askk me or accuse me of all the mentioned items here.

    You could have been PART of the problem, but not all. As you said, you wouldn't have damaged enough roots to kill it.
  4. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,219

    I think he meant 4' AWAY from the tree.

    BTW, what kind of tree, what size, how old?
  5. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,556

    Evergreens aren't taproot trees, so you can do damage within a foot from the surface. If I have to pull within four feet of an older tree, I'll hope it's an oak.
  6. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 23,155

    Never trench across a drip line, trench into the tree very carefully. You might be libel. :cry:
  7. BrandonV

    BrandonV LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,616

    most conifers are fairly top rooted, so the top 6-8" is likely where the feeder roots are. don't assume that the big bulky roots are the importance, all the small roots are what's important. you never want to plow/trench more than 1/4 in from the drip line on an older established tree. not saying you don't have to on occasion, but its not good. and also NEVER circle a tree or trench on all sides, that's a real kiss of death. I've on occasion dug a hole and bored thru just to try and avoid on big established oak... which around here you don't even want to look at funny. also if you must trench trench into the tree (towards the truck) and not across it. Was you're irrigation the only construction or did more happen? if any grading happened it could be a compaction issue, though if it has come on this quickly it's probably the trenching
  8. Waterit

    Waterit LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,931

    Look in the yellow pages, get an arborist to look at it (2nd opinion).
  9. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 23,155

    A lot of trees die when you park your truck under them.
  10. CAPT Stream Rotar

    CAPT Stream Rotar LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,192

    It was some type of small apple tree that was newly established in on a large berm in full sun..I would say the tree was there maybe 3 years tops....My old hoss pulled a pipe about 5 feet from the root ball....It died before that winter...

    I might have pictures.

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