What to do with the trees in the works?



There are several practices, such as conservation, transplants, pruning, felling, maintenance of green spaces, etc. that must be known and considered in advance to make better decisions. This article invites the reader to reflect on what should be done with trees on a construction site: should they be removed by the roots or cut down and allowed to dry out?

Vegetations are excellent environmental allies that provide multiple benefits to urban centers. One of the main questions that arise when building houses is the following: What to do with the trees that are nearby?

Whether the construction is carried out in an open or closed neighborhood, it is usual that in the lot, plot or land of the project there is some type of forest on which it is necessary to decide what to do.

Although there are architects who argue that it is necessary to root them out to avoid future problems in the foundations of the new home; Others maintain that this is not necessary, it is enough to cut them and let them dry out and decompose, thus contributing their nutrients to the soil.

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 pre-exist.

Many times the works need all the trees to be removed and others only require periodic pruning and irrigation maintenance so that they do not have to search 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.

Preservation of pre-existing 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 each 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 housing construction with 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 works under construction are adapted to trees, and not the other way around.

Transplants and architectural works around trees

Transplants are traumatic processes for trees and very complex to execute. It must be carried out taking the necessary precautions so that the process generates the least possible impact both at the foliage and roots level.

This option (transplanting) is usually selected to conserve trees that have valued particular characteristics. However, the best solution so that they have a better chance of survival is to leave them in their place of origin. Despite the changes that may occur in that space, it is more likely that there they will retain their vigor, ability to anchor to the ground and absorb water, etc.

Building plans should be able to answer this question: Is it appropriate to include the pre-existing trees on the site in the architectural design? If the project decision contemplates the existence of these trees, there are several factors that must be studied and properly calculated in order 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 foresee how these plants will survive in the new conditions imposed by the construction and, also, evaluate if these living beings will affect the incipient infrastructure in any way.

Although the advantages that trees provide 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, and drainage systems in homes, as well as in the control of pests and animal species that inhabit them.

In addition, it must be considered that, if the plants are not pruned, they interfere with the visual of the place (a condition that can lead to possible events of insecurity).

For these and other reasons, the management of trees in inhabitable places must be treated responsibly and strategically planned. Caring for the environment is a task that must begin at home. The natural balance provided by vegetation is key to making the planet more sustainable in the short and long term.


Pruning brings harmony and strength to vegetation. It is a practice that consists of eliminating dry branches, in poor condition or that hinder the environment.

In addition, it is presented as a widely used intermediate measure, when what is desired is to maintain green spaces without having to carry out 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 felling, 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 must not be ignored. Three adverse effects that may arise are Wedge breakage, drying of the ground, and decompression of the ground for the disappearance of the roots of the tree.

Wedge breaks are especially noticeable when tree roots lift sidewalks. This happens in humid places since this encourages the roots to develop more.

To prevent the 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 overgrowing.

The presence of trees demands a greater amount of water from the soil, which causes some drying of the land. Deciduous plants usually require more water than evergreen plants.

Another adverse effect that can arise after the felling of large trees is the decompression of the terrain. The roots that remain buried serve as food for the termites, which is a relatively short time consume and hollow them out. Or, either due to another cause, such as the lifting of the stump.

Logging is very useful when you want to take advantage of the wood from the trees to make objects and also when you want to completely clear the land where it will be built.

Stump lift and use Grinder 

Stump lifting consists of removing the pieces of the logs and root systems that remain after felling and that can damage the conditions of the place where it is going to be built in the short or long term.

It is a cleaning procedure that requires a lot of effort. This job, in most cases, requires various machinery and tools, such as backhoes, shovels, among other things.

Due to the complexity involved in lifting the stump, it is recommended to hire forestry professionals specialized in this work to ensure that the cleaning of stumps and tree stumps is done properly and in the least amount of time possible.

Stump grinding is an excellent method to grind the stumps of the trees. You can use a grinder machine to grind the stump easily and quickly. Grinder is a faster option if you need to eliminate a large stump. This way can help to slice the stump into several pieces of up to 15 or 20 cm. Overall, it is an amazing way to remove the stumps

This type of equipment is available for rent or you can do it by a professional service or company

If you want to replant the area, it is best to remove most of the sawdust and fill the hole created by the stump crushing with the top layer of soil. If more sawdust is accidentally mixed into the existing soil, it is generally worth adding nitrogen fertilizer before planting to counteract potential issues with nutrient lockout. So, there is no alternative to stumps grinding. 

There are at least 4 methods to get rid of a tree stump.

It is essential to choose the most suitable method for the root system of the tree species to be suppressed. There are several options, it is necessary to carefully evaluate and consider each of them. Although the best thing is to be able to consult with expert professionals in these matters to know on time what is the most convenient in each particular situation.

1- Use of tools and machinery (shovel, backhoe, etc.)

There are a series of steps to be carried out when removing the stump by using a shovel or machinery. First, it must be dug around the roots. Later, they are cut. In the third stage, the roots are pulled out. When most or all of them have been removed, the stump is removed. Finally, the hole in the ground is filled with loam or sawdust.

If this last step is not done, the earth in the hole will tend to collapse and a kind of crater will form in the ground. It is important from time to time to add extra layers of loam or sawdust to ensure that the ground is flat.

2- Shredding

This method requires a stump grinder. It is a machine with which root systems up to 30 cm deep can be shredded.

To operate this machinery it is very important to use protection for the person who handles it: they must wear gloves, goggles, and hearing protectors.

Once the shredder is positioned, it is turned on and according to the manufacturer’s instructions, the stump and roots of the tree are removed.

When the shredding is complete, the debris is scooped up and the resulting hole is filled with the same tree debris, loam, and/or sawdust.

3- Set it on fire

Burning the stump is another way to get rid of it. However, this method is not as straightforward as it sounds. You should be aware of the legislation of the place that allows this practice. If you miss this point, you are likely to expose yourself to penalties for open burning.

In addition to consulting the legislation, it is also necessary to consult specialists on the subject (such as firefighters) to provide information on risks, ways to carry out the controlled fire, and measures to take in the event of an accident.

Burning stumps takes several hours, so you have to be patient and keep the fire alive and controlled (always in optimal conditions). As the fire consumes the wood, the fire will go out when it reaches the ground.

Once the fire is consummated, the ashes must be removed with a shovel and discarded. Finally, it is filled – as with the other methods – with loam and/or sawdust.

4- Use of chemicals

The first thing to do to chemically remove what is left of the tree is to drill it at the top, making several large holes so that the stump through them absorbs the chemicals evenly.

Then, to soften and decompose the wood, the chemical is applied (most are composed of potassium nitrate).

This method takes several weeks and special care must be taken that it does not come into contact with people and animals, as it is toxic.

Once it softens, it can be easily removed. This is done with an ax or shovel. The pieces and what remains of the roots are suppressed through burning.

As in the previous cases, the ashes are removed and replaced by loam.

Hiring a trained team with years of experience in tree extraction will ensure that the operation is carried out successfully and there are no roots or strains left to grow back.

If what you want is to preserve the stump until it decomposes naturally, the following ideas will help to integrate it into the new landscape.

Forestry Mulching method 

It is a unique and indirect method to get rid of the stumps. It tends to clear the land and vegetation management. In some cases, if you intend to clear the land you need to eliminate the stumps first to smoothen the soil. So, it is an excellent method for applying. 

Brush Clearing method

It is a wonderful method to abolish the tree stump. Basically, Brush Clearing is crucial to take off the vegetation and other obstacles of the land. Besides, it removes other unnecessary things to keep the soil clean. So, it is an efficient way to remove the stumps. 

Land and lot clearing 

This method is a great way to erase the stumps. It also helps to clear trees, debris, boulders, and other large items that pose problems for the people, land and property. 

Stump decoration

If you have chosen to cut down the trees on the land under construction and the stump has not been removed by the roots, a good idea is to rethink what use can be made of what remains of the trees, (at least until they dry out). completely and decompose).

Creativity can be used to decorate the stumps, making the parts that protrude the pieces of trunk and roots are pleasant, aesthetic, and, why not, functional.

Let’s see how these types of woods can be used to decorate and make the lot stand out both for the new construction and for the remains of the old trees.

Use them as flower pots

Design them as tables

Create works of art outdoors

Make seats

Urban reforestation

Planting trees around infrastructures aims to achieve urban environments with more ecologically sustainable homes. It is a practice that is carried out in order to beautify the landscape, change the urban climate, improve air quality, increase shade and restore forests after a natural disaster or human intervention.

Planting tree species does not have to be an impromptu move, there are a few practical considerations to take when reforesting the field on site.

At Lapoda Servicios we know how complex this process is, that is why we share with you 16 important recommendations to take into account:

1. Avoid placing plants in spaces near foundations and gas, water, sewage, irrigation, or electricity pipes.

2. Before planting trees or shrubs, it is key to know what will be the volume that they will develop when they complete their growth after several years. We suggest searching the internet for adult species and projecting growth. It is also essential to know the types of soils, the hydric and thermal regime of the region, etc. to guide the choice towards species more compatible with the place.

3. If you want to have green leaves during the four seasons, avoid choosing deciduous trees, since they generally lose their leaves in autumn-winter. Another related issue to analyze is the location of the pool on the ground since if the tree is defoliated in winter all its leaves will fall on the pool. As long as a tree is evergreen it would not affect the pool.

4. Bear in mind that growing evergreens can interfere with their shade in the little sunlight that arrives in winter.

5. The longevity of the specimen is another variable that has to be evaluated. The following are trees with a short life cycle (20-25 years): Papaya (Carica papaya), medlar (Eriobotrya japonica), peach (Prunus persica), photinia (photinia serrulata), privet (ligustrum spp.), Albizia ( albizia julibrissin), acacias (acacia spp.), among many more.

6. The species that have leaves with unusual pigmentation or beautiful flowering are Delonix regia (ideal in climates without frost), chorisia speciosa (ideal in climates without frost), Olea europaea, Acer negundo ´aureovariegatum´ and ´flamingo´, Acer platanoides “ crimson king ”, etc.

7. If you are allergic to pollen, don’t plant cypress trees.

8. Before planting a tree, it is advisable to open the hole where it will go at least a month before and leave the hole in the open air. This action helps the area to ventilate and extinguish possible parasitic root fungi that are dormant.

9. Plants that are in containers or pots can be transplanted throughout the year, except when it freezes.

10. In small plots it is convenient to plant small trees, such as citrus and other fruit plants.

11. Perform proper pruning periodically to avoid possible dangers that the branches carry when they reach a large dimension.

12. Take care not to disturb the soil at the foot of the trees, because they can cause serious damage to the roots.

13. According to Argentine legislation, trees should not be planted within a distance of three meters from the dividing line with the neighbor, that is, the property of this rustic or urban property, whether or not it is fenced. In the event that they were at a shorter distance, the neighbor would have the right to request that they be cut off. The rationale for this rule is that trees that are too close to the neighbor’s land can cause damage such as producing humidity, absorbing nutrients, removing light, etc.

14. The distance between tree and tree within the terrain has to be well calculated. They should not be too close together.

15. Its incidence with respect to light/darkness should be taken advantage of depending on the orientation according to the cardinal points: North, South, East or West. That is, a tree located to the north of the property would help lower the heat and sun received in summer, while a tree, for example, to the west would help reduce the winds that impact the house.

16. It is necessary to consider both the general environmental conditions of the geographical region in terms of climate and soils, as well as the more specific conditions of the housing work in order to know how to more conveniently distribute the vegetation.

In summary, when carrying out urban reforestation and distributing the trees on the land, aesthetic and functional qualities must be considered: specific shape, foliage behavior, susceptibility to pests and diseases, size, magnitude, growth speed, 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 on 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.