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Wall around tree

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by grasscutter845, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. grasscutter845

    grasscutter845 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 153

    I have a customer who wants a retaining wall around this oak tree in the front yard. The roots are all over the place. My question is how would you go about digging down for your base with all the roots? I planned on going out 5 1/2 feet from the center of the tree.
  2. robtown

    robtown LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 224

    how big is the tree?
    is there room to go out furthur from the tree.
    how high is the wall
    are you going you back filling the tree.
    I would push it out as far as you cab go than dig it out slowly and if you have to cut any roots cut them as cleanly as possible.
    good luck
  3. Branch manager

    Branch manager LawnSite Member
    Messages: 56

    If it is at all possible, try to talk your client out of this plan. Oaks are very intolerant of having soil added over their existing root system. It takes a long time for them to put out a new set of shallow feeder roots,and the roots need water and air. Too much of either will kill them, and eventually the tree. Also, it's not a good idea to mound soil above the natural flare or crown of the trunk/root connection area; trunk wood is not designed to be in contact with soil, and will decay in due time. This is all above and beyond the damage that the construction will cause the root system, even if done 'carefully, by hand,etc.' No doubt they'd like flowers,whatnot, planted in proposed bed; and what will happen when they water said material? Water will seep down and suffocate roots(see above). If they absolutely insist on this project, by all means have them sign a paper holding you harmless if/when Oak declines. The time for walls/raised beds is BEFORE the tree is planted, so it can be put in at proper depth:nono: Good luck with this. Brian:drinkup:
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I am assuming the retaining wall is so that you don't have to cover the roots or hold the roots in place as you change the grade around the tree.

    Very common practice around here. Oaks seem to do as well as anything, but prepare for the eventuality of death.

    The most important aspects of the project are missing from your description, however.

    As mentioned, the size of the tree, the distance from the trunk, the material of the wall, height of the wall etc., etc.
  5. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Definitivly not a suggested practice. Like all have said, you'll kill the tree. If the soil line goes any higher, you kill roots. You take the chance of girdling the tree, the dirt around the base helps rot away the cambium where the tree does all it water/nutrient uptake. That is why when you plant any plant you always put the rootball right at ground level.
  6. grasscutter845

    grasscutter845 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 153

    The guy keeps bugging me about it i keep telling him the tree will die and its not good for it. I said we should remove the mulch thats around the tree and replace it with stone. he wants a wall becuase of the dogs getting in there and messing up the mulch and with stone they wont do that, so now he wants stone and a wall! But talked to a few lcos in the area and they said bc the ground is so hard to dig they said go down about 3 inches get some item 4 and compact it then build up from there? does that sound like a good idea
  7. SimonCX

    SimonCX LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 731

    Some things are better to walk away from, this is one of them. If the tree die's and it will, who do you think he is going to blame? Also if you cut all the roots around to put your 6" base in what do you think is going to happen if you get a big wind storm, not a good thing to be blamed for.
  8. Branch manager

    Branch manager LawnSite Member
    Messages: 56

    Dude, as I mentioned earlier, not a good thing to do to a beatiful Oak. Tell him he should get second opinion from local extention office, state/community college, reputable garden store, or a certified Arborist. If all else fails, I'd bail. Do you really want to be professionally associated with that project when it goes bad?. I sure wouldn't. Default mode: have him sign a paper accepting all risk and holding you harmless. :nono::hammerhead:
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    The tree will not surely die. We have contruction going on all the time in wooded lots where trees have their roots cut back within a few feet of the truck to make room for a basement wall. Walls built around trees to keep the ground level constant near the truck while all the scaping around it goes up or down.

    I agree. You should bail. Then go look around in the real world.
  10. Branch manager

    Branch manager LawnSite Member
    Messages: 56

    Amen to that. I worked for a nursery planting trees and shrubs all over WNY for 11 years before I 'branched out'... Anyway, I worked alot of newly built tracts, and all around you'd see few original trees. The trees spared the saw were either buried alive to accomodate a sloping grade, or pared down for the opposite effect. Another old trick was to push up all native topsoil in a pile, sell 90% off-site, and put back just enough to barely support sod/grass. We'd come to plant, cut the sod away, and be right into cruddy sub-soil. Even with peatmoss/fertilizer added, some things didn't tolerate it. Finally is the damage done to the rootzones by compaction of traffic during construction. The orange poly fence squares are a joke; the feeder roots go out way beyond the dripline of the canopy. In a heavy soil, this is death to roots and thusly the plant/tree. What people won't do to beaUtiful trees.:dizzy::drinkup:

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