There is very little in the world I love more than a good tree. There are nearly endless benefits of good trees. They provide shade and cool down homes in the warm months, which saves money by lowering the costs of AC.
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In the winter, trees provide a windbreak. So when those frigid nor’easter blizzards come through with high wind gusts, the trees you plant along your property line will take the icy blasts, rather than your house. This also saves you money on heating costs.
So you save money all year long. It’s true that deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in the fall) can make your weekends a little less fun by dropping leaves everywhere. But if you take or leaf blow those leaves right back over to the tree line, it becomes free mulch that will keep your tree friends happily saving you money on heating and cooling.
Plus, studies show green spaces are extremely beneficial for children’s cognitive development.
But as great as trees are, sometimes they need to go. Just like people, animals, and other plants, trees can and do get diseases and need to come down before the whole tree or large sections of the tree fall off and injure people, or demolish part of your house.
So what do you do about your irrigation system when a tree you love needs to be taken down?
Unless the tree removal is very time-sensitive and needs to be taken out immediately to prevent damage the first step is to call your irrigation company and have them assess the irrigation system in the area around the tree.
Again, just to stress here that if there is any possibility of injury to anyone or major damage to your home, skip the irrigation consult and get that tree down ASAP!
But even in a situation where time is critical, you can still shut off the water to the irrigation system. That way, if the tree removal damages the sprinkler pipes, you won’t end up with a flood to deal with, in addition to the stress and sadness involved with taking down a beloved tree.
If the tree removal is not imminent and you have some extra time, it would be wise to get your irrigation contractor out to the house to try to mitigate potential damage to the sprinkler system.
There are all kinds of ways that removing a tree can damage the irrigation system. Here are a few:
- The tree trunk or limbs can fall during the removal and puncture the ground. This break the irrigation components underground.
- Damage can be caused from huge tree service boom truck cranes driving over sprinkler system components.
- Tree roots often grow around sprinkler pipes, heads, wires, and valve boxes and when the tree is removed, pipes, wires, irrigation heads, and valve boxes can be broken in the process.
- A stump grinder will chew through the irrigation pipes and wires like…I don’t know, Cookie Monster in a Mrs. Field’s cookie factory? The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at a Book-It personal pan pizza party at Pizza Hut? You get the idea. Stump grinders eat immensely dense and heavy tree stumps, so plastic pipe and sprinkler heads probably aren’t going to stand much of a chance.
You can minimize the impact of some of these issues by consulting with your irrigation contractor before the tree removal occurs, but some of it will be tough to plan for.
If the tree company has a planned approach and can mark or at least describe the area where they expect the crane truck to be parked or the trunk to come down, your sprinkler contractor can scope it out to see if there are any major components like valve boxes in the area that should be moved or capped ahead of the tree work.
Unfortunately, there is still only so much you can prepare for. A limb could fall perfectly onto a valve box and crush it. The crane truck could inadvertently drive a foot or two off the driveway and cause a lot of problems crushing sprinkler heads that way. There’s not much that you can do to predict or prevent this kind of accidental damage.
At the very least, If you are able to have your irrigation company come out and cap or move lines before the work takes place, it is going to save you some aggravation…and money!