Ask the Experts

North Park Mall Wins NALP Award of Excellence for Tree Care

BEFORE: Like all the city of Dallas that is growing, NorthPark Mall is also growing in size. Due to store expansion, they decided this plot of space within the courtyard would make the most sense to expand into because these 4 trees were at their full potential and not in excellent condition. The courtyard area of the NorthPark Mall contains exquisite artwork and a beautiful landscape design showing off magnificent trees and ornamentals. The clients desire of the courtyard was to remove and grind the stumps of 4 mature Red Oak trees that were all roughly 45 ft tall and 40 ft wide in 1 work week. The challenge of this job was traveling through the mall. The courtyard was in the center of the mall we could only work during night in a small, confined removal area, and we had to have the lowest impacts as possible on its surroundings.Due to high volume of customers, vehicle traffic, and parking restrictions, this job required the production schedule to be at night between 8:00pm-8: 00am to minimize overall impact to the public. The strict time constraints were not only for efficiency, but also for public safety, with there being no shoppers present overnight. One of the larger challenges for the job was the crewman having to work longer hours than usual, as well as opposite night-shift hours.

Special equipment had to be ordered for this job, including propane powered buggies and special mats. The buggies had to be propane powered because there could not be any kind of emissions let out in the mall. Per client request, we could only use a direct route to the jobsite in the courtyard, so the mats were laid out strategically from the entrance point to the courtyard doors. The crew could then drive the buggies on the mats through the mall. Each day we had to lay out the mats and then pick up the mats, so the mall could be fully functioning in between work times.

Each work night started at 8pm with the crew arriving in a truck towing a chipper. The truck had all the necessary equipment needed for the job that night, including mats, chainsaws, safety cones, etc. After arriving, the crews would park at the chipper truck location marked on the map. They would then have to lay down the mats along the red route showing the crews path on the map through the mall. The length of this path that they had to travel was 300 yards. They could then drive the propane powered buggies on the matts through the mall. One of the challenges from a time efficiency standpoint of this was having to open and close multiple sets of doors every time they would enter and exit, whether it was for laying mats through the doorways, or driving their buggies through. This was done for security reasons and for the safety of the workers.

Due to the different working hours and the situation of heavy customer traffic, at the beginning of each day all equipment had to be transported to the job site at the starting time of 8:00pm. Before the crew left in the mornings at 8:00am, all equipment, material, and debris had to be picked up, cleaned, and moved out of the jobsite on to the work trucks and back to the office.

Due to being in close quarters with high end retail stores, the crews had to conduct themselves in a very professional manner. All the close surrounding areas outside of the designated work area were cleaned and blown off to ensure they were looking nice and neat. Doors from the courtyard being worked on lead directly store front entrances.

One of the challenges of this job was to complete it in tight quarters. The crew had to be very meticulous in the work they performed to not damage any of the building, other landscaping, and expensive artwork. This created a lengthier process for the crew to complete this job than it would have been in a more open landscape.

The tree climbers had to start the process of each removal by throwing the ropes into the trees in a secure spot. This is a very tedious process that can take time to ensure they are strapping themselves into a healthy and supportive part of the tree. Once the ropes were in a stable part of the tree the climbers would then secure themselves to the ropes. Once secured and tied in properly the climbers would then start the ascent up the tree with their tools and equipment to take down the tree.

Every tree that was removed had to be pieced out in a methodical method. This meant that the climber in the tree had to use his chainsaw to cut each branch out of the tree individually. He would tie a rope around each individual branch, then cut the branch with his chainsaw and slowly lower the branch to the ground. The removals were done in this method to not break anything and protect nearby landscaping, art, railings, steps, and pavers. The climber would do this on all major branches of the tree until the full canopy was taken out.

After the Climber had cut the limbs out of the tree and lowered them down to the ground. The grounds men would then cut those limbs up into smaller pieces where they were loaded into the buggies and driven out to the chipper trucks. Once the canopy had been pieced out of the tree, then the trunk would be cut down and cut into pieces they could pick up and put into the buggies to be hauled off to the chipper. The debris would then be chipped up and in the morning, they would drive the load of woodchips back to the office, where they would then be composted and recycled for future uses, such as mulching.

On top of just the tree work being conducted in close quarters, the crewmen that were driving the propane powered buggies were also confined to driving and hauling the debris in tight spaces through designated hallways. Due to having to close and open all doors when passing through, this added a lot of time and cut down on the efficiency of what this job could have been. These narrow hallways throughout the mall were the only way to move debris in and out to the chipper trucks in the front where the debris would then be chipped up.

Performing large tree removals at a high-end shopping center including retail locations staff, pedestrians, and tight working area with no room for error presents a multitude of challenges. Adding rain is just another layer of difficulty. Even with several delays throughout the night due to thunderstorms, the team worked through the rain and water build up to ensure we still beat the client’s timelines.

After the 4 trees had been removed at the end of the week, the client asked us to leave the work site fenced and coned off for public safety. Due to tough working hours, tight spaces, lack of light, coordination of moving equipment, and having to be extra careful of not damaging the surrounding areas, the job had many difficulties and challenges. Like all jobs, there was a set amount of time the project needed to be completed in and the crew finished the job earlier than expected. The client accepted the final product of our services.

After tree removal.

View from afar of complete project.