If you're buying land on which to build, take care to protect its value. What is growing on the lot, for example? Examine closely whatever is growing there, even if only weeds. Their color, vigor, and abundance are good indicators of the kind of soil, drainage, and erosion you will have to work with later on.
Some of the trees may be valuable and you should want to find out.
Will you have to cut down those silver maples or will you protect that oak? Will your trees drop walnuts, bean pods, or buckeyes, or will they shed deadwood and pears to soil the driveway? Will that lovely evergreen give winter wind protection to the north or west side of the house or winter gloom to the south?
Mark the trees you want to save and be firm with your contractor about their care.
It is a good idea to board up the trunks of feature trees which are near the work and traffic areas lest they be injured. Stake out and string off from traffic the entire area beneath a tree's crown. Don't forget that the root system spreads at least this distance.
At all cost prevent heavy machinery from impacting the soil over the root area.
Before any excavation is done, have the bulldozer remove all the topsoil from the proposed area to be dug or graded and pile it up in a spot some distance from the tree roots.
Have the subsoil from the basement trucked away unless it is needed for grade changes. Too often subsoil is dumped over the topsoil, burying it to a useless depth. Thus, the new homeowner has an imposible job trying to get his lawn and shrubbery to grow.
After all the grading is finished, have the topsoil spread over the lawn area evenly.
No more than an inch or two of topsoil, however, should be added above the root area of existing trees or they may suffocate.
Where grade increases are required, make stone wells around a tree's buttress roots, about 10 feet in diameter around the trunk. Drain tiles stood vertically and filled with small rocks should be buried here and there over the rest of the root area to provide ventilation and irrigation.
Plan driveways, underground pipe systems, and overhead telephone and electric wires with both present and future tree growth in mind. Now is the time to avoid the mistakes that can be so costly later on.
Where tree roots must be cut, feed the trees and have the tops pruned back to compensate. Be prompt also to repair any torn limbs, scars, or bark wounds.
If you are buying a newly built home, check the drainage, color, and friability of the soil. Also check the builder's tree sense in his placement of the buildings and driveway and in the condition of the trees.
If carelessness is shown, beware.