One of the big challenges that we face with acceptance of the Silva Cell is cost-related. People love the concept and want to deliver big trees to their clients and site developments but don’t have the wiggle room on the budget for trees that they might for other site amenities.
While the Silva Cell is significantly less expensive than a comparable custom-designed system, it will always be more expensive in the short term than just digging a hole and dropping a sapling in it. That is business as usual, and the Silva Cell will never prevail from either a financial or effectiveness standpoint if we only look as far as the planting of the tree.
One of the many positive side effects of the recent popularity of “green” building materials, design principles and values, however, is that more and more people are looking beyond the traditional project end-point to determine whether their efforts are truly sustainable and cost-effective.
The Silva Cell’s main selling point is quite the opposite of that of a traditional tree pit, which is to say that — with proper installation, planting, irrigation and care — you should not have to worry about the cost of ripping up the sidewalk or replacing that tree for another 40, 50, or 60 years. But how do you put that number on a bid tabulation or a client budget?
Doing a comprehensive life-cycle analysis for trees planted in Silva Cells versus trees planted in traditional tree pits has been on our list for a while now, and now it’s finally underway. We have a lot of great data on Elms in Minneapolis, MN that were planted in traditional tree pits that we are comparing to trees planted in Silva Cells. We should have something to share very soon!