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Trees and utilities

It is often necessary for trenches to be dug in order to feed utilities such as electricity, gas and water to your homes or to carry out maintenance on existing services. Due to limited space, below ground utilities are often installed close to tree roots.

The majority of tree roots are typically concentrated within the uppermost 600 mm of the soil. Within a short distance of the stem, the roots are highly branched, creating a network of small-diameter woody roots, which can extend radially for a distance much greater than the height of the tree.

The root system does not generally show the symmetry seen in the branch structure as the development of the roots is influenced by the availability of water,nutrients, oxygen and soil penetrability.

The function of tree roots is the uptake of water, mineral nutrients and to anchor the tree into the ground. Damage to tree roots by severance or soil compaction can have a detrimental impact on the trees ability to absorb the essential water and nutrients needed by the tree to survive. Severance or damage to larger woody roots can also compromise the trees stability leading to potential wind throw.

Damage to tree roots can be avoided if contractors carry out any works adjacent to trees in accordance with best industry practice as stated in BS5837:2012 Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – Recommendations National Joint Utilities Group (NJUG) Guidelines for the Planning, Installation and Maintenance of Utility Apparatus in Proximity of Trees.

Please report to South Gloucestershire Council if you encounter any open trenches where damaged tree roots are present or any mechanical excavation close

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