Why do subdivision builders often tear down every. single. tree?

[NE Florida]

In my local travels I’ll often come across a previously vacant forest lost which is being made into a subdivision.

Sometimes they’ll try to salvage many of the trees.

But more often they seem awfully anxious to rip every tree out, pretty much without exception.

Is it because most of the trees are perhaps nothing more than skinny scraggly pines? You’d think there would have a few oaks here and there that they would want to keep. Trees also keep temperatures down during the day. If they decide to replant that seems like a pointless action given that mature [live] oaks can take over 50 years to mature.

Anybody who works in or is conversant with said field care to chime in?

The short answer is they’re almost never in the right place.

If you leave the trees then you have to plan and work around them and they may die anyway when a contractor cuts their roots laying cable. Easier all around to just remove everything and then plant new trees where you want them, not where they might have been.

As once said, they cut down all the trees and name the streets in their memory. I have lived on streets named after trees that are not around.

This happened when we built our house in 2015. We flagged several nice oaks and maples to leave when the lot was cleared.

Only one is still standing and it’s looking bad now too.

It’s a damn shame they way they scrape away at the land annihilating all plant diversity and then “landscape “ with lollipop trees and arbor vitae or burning bushes. Preservation of can be achieved it’s a hard sell to those who resist the concept. The coastal oaks and palmetto scrub of Florida are getting whittled away.

its better to replant than try to build around.
a sub division is more than just houses. its sewer and water lines, electric and cable lines, gas and sometimes storm drains. all of these crisscrossing every where at different depths. then, often times, the area has to be regraded to ensure proper drainage, so the tress may not be at the proper elevation. There’s no good way to keep any but a very few specimens alive.
There’s no reason, however why the indigenous plant life couldn’t be replanted. Other than the fact that most city building codes specify what types of greenery are acceptable. and landscape architects have very specific ideas about what consumers want.

Oaks are very sensitive to soil conditions in the upper root zone. You can leave a mature oak standing but the act of moving equipment and stuff around it will almost certainly kill it anyway. It’ll just take a couple years to decline first and leave a giant dead tree in the subdivision rather than taking care of it from the start.

In general, mature trees require a wide berth be given to keep them healthy which, the more trees you’re trying to save, the less viable it is since you start cutting off route for both infrastructure but also just moving equipment around in the first place.

The city of Los Osos, Ca. cut down an entire block of eucalyptus grove, which had been a gathering spot for migrating monarch butterflies, in order to build an elementary school. They named the school Monarch Grove Elementary School, so all was well.

(Another much larger tract nearby was also cut down to build housing, IIRC.)

The contractor wants to build a neighborhood of ,say 30 houses.
He knows that he will be able to sell all 30 houses at market price. If he leaves old-growth trees on 5 of the lots, the price will still be the same as the other 25 lots. And even if he could sell a house with trees for , say S10,000 more than the other lots…it would probably cost more than 10000 to preserve the trees–which requires a lot of planning, re-engineering all the underground utilities, and a lot of inconvenience during the construction process.

As others said, it’s easier and cheaper.

I worked for a homebuilder who created a community of semi-custom homes within a plot that had mature pines. They had to agree to save number of trees in order to build there, and it was really time consuming, expensive and difficult. They got good PR for the “greeness” of it, though. (And the homes/lots were beautiful when finished)

some plots of land were farms and have no trees to start with .

Not so much with subdivisions, but sometimes people who purchase a wooded lot to build on do leave some of the mature trees and build around them, particularly hardwood trees. Unfortunately, in many of those cases, the trees they save are very tall and slender with no low branches or significant spread because they were previously competing for sunlight with all the other trees around them. There is a huge difference in the shape and appearance of a tree that grows in open space with no other trees around it and one that grows as part of a thicket of other trees. And in hurricane prone areas, those tall spindly trees are more likely to get blown over or broken in a storm and potentially be a threat to the house or other structures.

I’m familiar with a similar eucalyptus Grove a bit further south, which like the one you describe was a resting spot for migrating monarchs. Of course Eucalyptus trees are not native to America, coming from Australia, so I do wonder why it is that the monarchs love them so much.

I doubt most subdivisions are paying for landscape architects for the private lots. Around here, you built your house and were left with a sod allowance and a coupon for two small trees, your choice. Most people chose maples and pines - both are native but that isn’t why they were chosen. They were chosen because they grow fast. Some people spent to add more trees. The trees that the builders were able to leave behind are still here - there are a couple of groves of aspen in the neighborhood, oaks surround the “pond” behind us - but most of what they were able to leave in the yards lasted only long enough for the other trees to grow - box elders and cottonwoods (cottonwoods are native, but they aren’t good trees). Twenty years after building my house, I’m surrounded by maples and pines - a few birches (also native) and a couple of ornamental crabapples. Even the ritzy million dollar neighborhood up the street looks like mine in terms of the trees.

Grading. The roots can’t be exposed or too far under ground. If you tried to use the original trees they would mostly be in depressions or on top of mounds.

If you want to keep trees you probably need to buy the lot and hire your own builder to leave the trees you want. Around here new shopping centers must plant trees in the parking lot but they are small. Eventually they can grow to a nice size of they don’t die.

Possibly the only thing in North America that does. One of the many raps against the eucalyptus is that it creates biological dead zones as native species can’t browse it with all the oil in it. More serious is the problem that it readily becomes a flaming torch in a wildfire, and creates massive piles of duff. I will admit that Eucalyptus groves such as the one on the Berkeley campus can be striking, but in general I don’t mind eucalyptuses being cut down in Ca. They are simply growing wild where they don’t belong, and a debate continues among conservationists as to whether they should be treated as the world’s largest weed, and taken out, or whether that’s doing more harm than good. Some parks have been clearing wild eucalyptus groves out to reestablish native species, and some municipalities have banned them for use in landscaping.

(I realize there are many eucalyptus species, btw. The one being discussed here is the “[Australian | Southern | Tasmanian] blue gum”, Eucalyptus globulus, deliberately introduced to be a timber tree, which didn’t work.)

And because it’s allelopathic and suppresses understory growth. I think not to the extent black walnut is, but you won’t find many plants growing under a eucalyptus grove. /hijack