Our Recommended Soil Volume for Urban Trees

We have a lot of resources about implementing minimum soil volumes for urban trees on this blog. Recently we’ve updated our list of municipalities that have a minimum soil volume standard. Trees need an adequate volume of root, oxygen-rich soil to thrive, and minimum soil volume policies are a powerful tool for arborists and other advocates… More

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Urban Soil Reuse as Planting Soil: Current Science and Lessons Learned

Over the last several years, DeepRoot has written about reusing urban soils as a planting medium. To date, the following have been covered via the DeepRoot blog: Reusing Existing Urban Soil for Planting Urban Soil Assessment and Reuse: Part 1 and Part 2 Search for the “Perfect” Soil Specification The articles above create a basis… More

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Why Trees May Fail to Establish or Thrive (and what to do about it)

Landscape architects, architects, and engineers have many tools available to them in the design of healthy long-lived trees, and no single one of them can guarantee the establishment or long-term success of the trees. These tools need to be applied within a larger understanding of general principles of arboriculture, soil, and urban conditions in order… More

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Reusing Existing Urban Soil for Planting    

Most urban sites have some amount of mineral soil in place when the time comes to install plant material, yet these soils are often assumed – erroneously – to be unsuitable. Historically there have been two approaches to this situation. The default option is to ignore the problem, or make minor modifications such as digging… More

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The Case For Big Tree Openings

I recently presented a webinar where I discussed three high-impact design decisions that affect long-term tree performance: tree spacing, sizing the tree opening, and water harvesting into soil below paving. Attendees asked a lot of good questions, and by far the most asked one had to do with the use of tree grates. As anyone… More

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What Is Soil Organic Matter?

Today’s post, written by James Urban, FASLA, originally ran in 2011. But understanding soil organic matter – a sometimes mysterious-seeming property of healthy soil – remains a fundamental component of any discussion about planting trees for long-term success. -LM As a soils guy, I have a lot of discussions with clients and colleagues about the quantity… More

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Is it “Soil” or is it “Dirt”?

A recent issue of the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects (OALA) magazine, Ground, contained a great discussion between nine professionals on the topic of soil. James Urban, FASLA, ISA, wrote to the magazine to add a few more comments to the piece – taking issue with the contention that what we plant in shouldn’t be… More

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Every Project Needs a Lorax

The Lorax, as many people know, is a Dr. Seuss book about a mythical creature who “speaks for trees.” Widely understood as a parable about the value and importance of natural resources and the risk industry poses to them, the word “Lorax” has come to mean someone who is environmentally minded and is an advocate for… More

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The Basics of Tree Structure and Growth

Very often the “trees” that are added to architectural drawings or envisioned as elements of a new downtown landscape are only part of the structure: the aboveground portion that includes the trunk, the branches, the canopy, and the leaves. While this portion of the tree is usually the only visible part and thus captivates the… More

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