Celebrating Over 45 Years of Exceeding Customer Expectations!
  • Jeanne Hafner
Improperly Planted

Trees Improperly Planted in Recently Built Home Developments

Homeowners in newer developments need to be on the lookout for tree and shrub problems. Unfortunately, poor soil, improper planting and bad mulching practices can cause long term problems. Whether you’re in a brand-new development or one that’s been around for several years, you’ll want to read on to learn the warning signs to look for and how the Villas of Newtown saved their trees with help from Giroud.

The Problem with Trees in Recently Built Developments

Poor Soil

When new homes are built, the nutrient-rich topsoil is scraped away. There are also many other problems, including poor drainage, compaction, and soil that’s altered during grading. This soil is unsuitable for healthy growth.

For more information, check out Penn State’s Department of Agriculture Extension webpage for Understanding Tree Planting in Construction-Damaged Soils

Improper Planting

It’s important to plant a tree correctly in order for it to thrive and grow. If a tree is planted either too deep or too shallow, it can lead to the development of poor root structure over time. An unhealthy start for a young, new tree can lead to structural problems as the trees grow.

Bad Mulching

When a tree is “volcano mulched”, meaning the mulch is piled high up on the trunk of the tree, the roots mistake the mulch for soil and grow in the wrong direction causing Girdling Roots. As roots grow up and around the trunk, they can strangle the tree over time as the trunk grows thicker! When mulching, you or your landscaper should always leave at least a 1” space between the tree trunk and the mulch.

Warning Signs of Distress:

Here’s what you’ll see if your tree is suffering:

-yellow and/or brown spotted leaves
-branch dieback
-tree is leaning
-early leaf drop
-the tree canopy is not leafing out fully

Thankfully, your Giroud Arborist may be able to correct any problems and reverse the damage done to your trees. That’s exactly what an entire neighborhood in Bucks County did.

How the Villas of Newtown Community Saved Their Trees

In the Spring of 2017, members of the Homeowners’ Association (HOA) at the Villas of Newtown were concerned about many of the trees throughout the neighborhood. This beautiful 55+ Community in Bucks County, PA has a wide variety of trees, including Zelkovas, Maples, Pears, evergreens and more. The leaves of many of these trees were plagued with yellow, spotted leaves and looked like they were declining. They needed help fast, so they called on ISA Certified Giroud Arborist, Erik Rodgers.

“Their trees are an important part of the community,” says Erik Rodgers, “They had been planted only about 10 years ago, and they want these trees to be around for the residents to enjoy for many years to come.”

Erik saw that many of the trees in this development were improperly planted to begin with, likely buried too deep in the soil. Additionally, when the Villas of Newtown homes were built, the soil was likely stripped of healthy nutrients and vitamins found naturally in the ground. Plus, most of trees had girdling roots due to years of improper mulching.

Erik developed a plan to save the trees. Over the course of 2018 and 2019, the Giroud Crew airspaded about 400 trees and clipped away all of the girdling roots. An airspader blows away the soil and exposes the roots so they can be cut from the tree. Then, the roots are re-buried under the soil.

Check out this video of Crew Leader, Bill Santry, airspading some of the Holly Trees at the Villas and learn how deep to plant a new tree:

Fertilizing to Promote Healthy Growth

Erik also noticed that many of the trees around the development were in need of deep root fertilizer treatments. Since soil at construction sites are leeched of healthy elements needed to be a thriving growth environment, a deep root feeding is a fantastic way to inject those critical nutrients back into the soil.

Giroud’s special time-release formula of vitamins paired with biostimulants delivers nutrients to trees for up to 12 full months; boosting tree health and promoting strong root growth. Plus, deep root feedings stimulate healthy and vibrant new growth up top as well!

Erik recommended annual deep root feedings. For the last 3 consecutive years, Giroud has fertilized 487 trees throughout the neighborhood. The trees have flourished from these treatments and are growing healthy, strong and beautifully!

Learn more about How Every Tree Benefits from a Deep Root Feeding

Pruning for Health, Safety and Beauty

Free of girdled roots and getting much needed fertilizer treatments, the trees are thriving. The next step is pruning! This past week, the HOA was able to invest in pruning close to 200 trees. This sort of structural pruning is important for 2 reasons:

  • the trees look prettier with an improved shape and the ugly deadwood cleaned out
  • it develops good branch structure to promote future healthy growth of new branches and buds.

Erik also identified 5 Crimson King Maple Trees that were infested with Bagworms. Bagworms are a highly destructive insect. Maples are an important landscape element in this community and they didn’t want to lose them. Thankfully, Erik caught them early, so these trees will receive spray treatments to destroy the bagworms and protect the trees.

Now, the Villas of Newtown are lined with trees the residents and HOA representatives can be proud of! The wide variety of healthy, thriving trees reflect the class and luxury of this community!

Why an Arborist is an Important Partner for You and Your Landscape

Having a healthy head start is vital for your tree’s growth! Ideally, working with an ISA Certified Arborist at the time of the tree’s planting would be the best first step. Unlike a landscaping company, an arborist knows how to identify and correct any issues with the soil before the trees is planted. He may recommend adjusting the soil’s pH level, adding nutrients to the soil, and/or breaking up any compacted soil so the young tree’s roots can grow freely.

Unfortunately, there are times when the issues have gone undetected for too long and our arborist cannot save the tree. That’s sad and so preventable! If you live in a newer development, it’s important to have all of your trees and shrubs inspected for signs of distress. Working with a professional will ensure your tree gets the help it needs before it’s too late!

How Your HOA Can Benefit from Working with a Giroud Arborist

One of the great benefits of a Homeowner’s Association is that residents can enjoy their homes without having to worry about property maintenance projects such as tree care. However, if your HOA manages the trees on your property, be sure to report any concerns you may see as soon as possible, and recommend a neighborhood inspection with a Giroud Arborist. We’ll help you develop a solid plan for tree care, and even Lawn Care and Mosquito & Tick Control! Giroud Arborists are all ISA Certified, and they have the knowledge and experience required to successfully diagnose, treat and maintain the health and beauty of your community’s trees and lawn.

Check out our article 5 Steps to Choose the Best Tree Service for more information about what to look for when hiring a qualified company.

To schedule an evaluation, for your home or for your HOA community, give us a call at 215-682-7704. A Giroud ISA Certified Arborist will do a full evaluation and come up with a plan to improve your property!

Author: Jeanne Hafner

Leave a Reply


  • Ginny & Chet Snook

    How blessed we were to have intervention from expert Arborists to keep our lovely trees from the brink and our community looking so healthy. Kudos to our Board for investing in protecting this worthy endeavor at the VON.

    • Jeanne Hafner

      Hi GInny and Chet! We are thrilled to hear that you are happy with the results! It gives us satisfaction knowing that you and your entire community will be able to enjoy those trees for years to come!