One of the most often overlooked aspects of a tree are the roots themselves. Overlooked, that is, UNTIL they blow up a sidewalk, curb, gutter, driveway or foundation.
Most neighborhoods are and have been built the same way, forever!
Step 1. Approve the development.
Step 2. Approve the building plan/s.
Step 3. Approve the landscape/planting plans
Step 4. Ignore the requirements of our beloved trees and plants and compact the hell out of every square inch of soil within the development!
Step 6. Mitigate the impossible growing conditions of the compacted to 95% soil by spreading some low grade topsoil in the planting areas.
Step 6. Throw up your hands 8-10 years down the road when the plants die and the tree roots begin to destroy everything in their path because they have nowhere else to go to anchor, absorb, store, transport, and breathe…
There are volumes of books and other publications written on this subject but very little of the really sage advice is taken to heart. I guess as long as the tree holds out long enough for the check to clear, what a dirty damn shame…
We have learned that a solid stable soil base is the best place to put a house. We have also learned that few trees will be happy in engineered, compacted soil, usually clay.
The joke in Ashland is there are only two types of soil here and they named streets after them, Clay and Granite, Ha!
Some trees do OK in crappy compacted soil, but the list is pretty short.
In this day and age, it seems that we should give a lot more consideration to our urban forest as our lives truly depend on it. On the same hand the “fix it when it breaks” approach turns out to be a fiscally irresponsible burden to the homeowner and H.O.A.s as they foot the bill for fixing it in the end run.
Mitigating damage after the fact is expensive, Providing space or soil volume should be at the forefront BEFORE the tree goes in the landscape.
As my dear mother used to proclaim, “You mean to tell me we can put a man on the moon, but you can’t clean up your room?”
As always, plant high, often and plant for the future…