Minimizing Native Plant Disturbance During Excavation

Denuded Excavated Hillside Weeds are the bain of any native restoration. Disturbed areas, such as the post excavated site in this photo, are ripe for weeds to come in. One of the biggest difficulties of site work for new construction is minimizing the extent of disturbance.

When contractors are on site, their goal is to get the work done in the most efficient way for them to do their part of the project. It is a rare contractor who is really sensitive to native plant disturbance. That means that either you get your general contractor on board early and make sure that he realizes this is a priority to you, or you oversee or hire someone to oversee the site work, material storage and parking. It is difficult, as there are many vehicles that access a construction site and they need turn around space and material storage space. You also will have large areas that are disturbed outside of the building envelope to accommodate septic and utility lines. All of these require large disturbances and it is unavoidable. There are a few key tips in site work that are important.

 Site Work:

  • Make sure that the excavation equipment that is coming onto site is clean – washed down so that it isn’t carrying weed seeds from other sites.
  • Be adamant that fill, gravel and pit run is from a clean site that isn’t infested with knapweed, cheatgrass and other weedy species.
  • Rope off areas for contractor parking.
  • Rope off areas that cannot be disturbed.
  • Use silt fencing and other methods to control surface run-off from disturbed areas.

Also read about Saving Native Top Soil and Saving Native Sod techniques, two other important factors in native plant conservation on your construction site.

 –Leslie Lowe, L.A, Registered Landscape Architect