March 24, 2022

Building a New House Around a 100-Year-Old Tree

I take you to a brand new project in Needham, where we are poised to break ground. But before we started digging, a crucial meeting was held on-site to discuss the steps we would take to protect the beautiful old trees on the property.


This meeting provided an opportunity to get everyone involved—the architect, the family, the interior designer, and myself—to come up with a plan to protect the existing majestic trees. We’re going to be very intentional with our decision-making and construction process to ensure the health and longevity of these trees for years to come.

We had an arborist inspect the trees and determine which ones were healthy and which ones should be removed. Luckily, the two gorgeous King Crimson Maples on the left and right of the property are in great shape. And the 100-year-old giant Sweet Gum in the center is in good health. Now the real fun can begin: designing and building a new house around this massive tree.


Our top priority is not to impact the root system of the Sweet Gum or disturb the tree itself. The first step will be air spading—using high-pressure air to safely remove soil from the base of the tree and expose the root system. Then we can navigate and see where the roots are heading. Those that are directly in the path of excavation can be cleanly cut—thus allowing the roots a chance to continue to live and grow.

Next, fencing will be put up around each tree, following underneath the drip line. Then the area will be filled in with mulch to maintain moisture for the roots and tree. The area behind the fencing is off-limits to everyone. Although propping up against the cool bark and enjoying the shade under a tree is a great way to spend lunch on a construction site, that won’t be happening at this site.

Even the tree line on the far edge of the property is going to get some extra protection. We are going to run an orange plastic snow fence all the way down the line of trees. This will clearly warn that this is not an area to store materials, park a vehicle, etc.

It’s time to discover what NS Builders can intentionally craft for you! Contact us today to get started on your custom dream home. Together, we can make it happen.

—Nick Schiffer


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