The best way to save on landscaping your site is to preserve the existing trees. Grading contractors will assume you want your entire site cleared unless you specifically indicate areas to be preserved and specifically require protective fencing to keep heavy equipment out of those areas during construction activity. Equipment operators are more than happy to over-clear to the property line. It’s easier for them, since they don’t have to tip-toe around special trees. Also, with more clearing, they get paid more. Clearcutting is more expensive for the developer, however. After the dozers are done with demolition, the project may take on additional costs, because large amounts of rip rap may be required along the stream channel to armor new, unstable buffers. All the extra trouble and expense can be avoided by preemptive action at the drawing board. Healthy, existing trees save money if they are protected during the demolition stage.
New construction sites often fall victim to an overly enthusiastic clearing equipment operator. The dozer operator may not read the specs and plan sheets carefully, so be sure sturdy, orange fencing is installed before any clearing starts. Protective fencing needs to be in place at the same time the initial soil erosion and sedimentation control safeguards are installed, during phase-zero of the project. Put specific notes about the timing for fence installation on your plan sheets for protecting areas to be graded.
The unmanaged woods within the project limits of a construction site are valuable. If they are protected, you reduce your maintenance costs, reduce your demolition costs, and reduce the amount of new planting needed to restore your site. Include protection of woodland buffers as a BMP on your soil erosion and sedimentation control plans. Protective barriers are important visual boundaries, especially in vulnerable areas like stream buffers.
Instruct the operator on the bulldozer. Show them the boundaries of the areas you want cleared and the areas you want protected. You need to use big, bright-orange protective fence to provide clear boundaries. Those ugly fences are only temporary, but they preserve the delicate drip line of trees. The existing woodland beauty deserves a permanent place in your landscape design.