Don’s Expert Answers: Potential of nearby construction work to affect the health and/or stability of a tree.

Question From:
Peter Roberts in Maroochydore, Maroochydore Queensland

Nature of problem:
Potential of nearby construction work to affect the health and/or stability of a tree.

Type of Plant (if known):

Symptoms of Plant Illness (please try NOT to diagnose your problems yourself):
Not applicable, the tree seems to be perfectly healthy at present.

Soil Type (e.g. sandy, clay or loam) OR Potting Mix Type:
Sandy loam and some clay.

How often do you water the plant:
At least once per week when it was being established. Now it thrives on rainfall.

How many hours of sunlight does the plant get each day:
8 to 14 hours per day, depending on the time of year

How long since you planted it:
At least 20 years ago

Have you fertilised? If so, with what and when:

Is the plant indoors or outdoors:

Is the plant in a pot or in the ground:
In the ground.

What other treatments have you given the plant:
Not applicable

Upload photo if available:

Other Comments:
The axis of the trunk is approximately 80-90 cm from an existing fence and a low (30-50 cm) retaining wall on the boundary of our property and a neighbouring property that is to be redeveloped. It has been proposed that the fence and the retaining wall be replaced with new construction. We are concerned about the possibility that the tree might become unstable if the tree roots that grow under the wall and into the sub-soil of the other property are removed during the proposed works – ie, we’ve not been able to find out about the type of root system possessed by a tea-tree, and about how robust they are in response to interference to their roots. There is a small bulge in the existing retaining wall, directly opposite the base of the tree, which seems to indicate that some roots are growing up against the inside edge of the sleepers. Our main concern is whether the works are likely to affect the health and stability of the tree, resulting in a significantly increased risk of collapse as a result of an extreme weather event.

Hi Peter, You need to get in a qualified arborist to look at the situation. S/he will see and understand things that you won’t, including the fact that it is probably not a Tea Tree. Sorry to be blunt, but this is not something to be done without either a site inspection or even a photo. Don