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Installing utilities under the canopy

an air spade can open a trench without damaging roots

Cutting roots when installing utilities such as cable, water and sewer lines under existing trees can severely damage the tree. Many roots are located just below the surface of the soil.

Adjust the location of the lines to avoid cutting roots under the canopy. Even cutting small (less than one-half inch) roots under or outside the edge of the canopy for long stretches can cut off water supply to the tree. This can cause the tree to decline or die during the next several years.

First, coordinate trenching with all the utility companies that need to run a line to the building. Under ideal conditions all utilities can be placed in one trench strategically placed to avoid cutting large roots.

Another option is to use an air excavation tool to blow open a trench without damaging roots (click here to see air excavtion tool). This will allow lines to be placed under the shallow tree roots without cutting them. This will take more time than simply cutting a trench with a mechanical trencher. Every irrigation company that installs lines near established trees should have access to this device and the training that allows it to be used appropriately.