Silva Cells Build Large Trees in Towns of Any Size


From New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to Wembley Stadium in London, DeepRoot has helped ensure the success of green infrastructure projects in big cities across the globe. But these high-profile initiatives are only part of our story — Silva Cells grow large trees in towns big and small, partnering with designers, engineers, and contractors in cities of all sizes to help realize the benefits of urban forestry.

And it could be more financially feasible than you think. Funding assistance — particularly for Silva Cell projects used for on-location stormwater management — is not exclusive to New York City and London. Many small towns have received grants or other economic support to go green.

Let’s take a look at a selection of small to medium-sized American towns that’ve transformed downtown areas with thriving green infrastructure — made possible, in part, by the DeepRoot Silva Cell system.

Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

Installed: Summer 2016

Silva Cells: 160 (1x)

Silva Cell Trees: 2

Following a devastating flood in the fall of 2012, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia — a town of less than a thousand residents — decided to take steps to improve their town’s stormwater management, and they embraced green infrastructure as a solution.

According to the Chesapeake Bay Program’s overview of the project, “By 2018, with the help of local and regional partnerships, the community had added new stormwater control elements into some already scheduled capital improvement projects — a cost-effective solution for the small town.”

In addition to a pair of street trees planted in Silva Cells, Berkeley Springs also added raingardens, bioretention tree boxes, native vegetation, and permeable pavers for water to seep through for treatment before entering the municipal sewer system. Funding was secured through a number of public and private sources, as regional officials realized the benefits (to both the residents and local businesses) of managing rainwater and adding greenery to the downtown area.

Clinton, Iowa

Installed: Spring 2015

Silva Cells: 390 (1x)

Silva Cell Trees: 6

One of the chief priorities for project planners in Clinton, Iowa, when beginning their downtown improvement initiative in the mid-2010s was to address the city’s stormwater management practices: addressing the fact that the city’s treated sanitary sewer water combined with the area’s untreated stormwater runoff.

By utilizing Silva Cells under permeable brick pavers, rainwater now seeps into the top soil below and irrigates the six new street trees; likewise, the remaining drainage exiting the Silva Cells into the municipal system is cleansed through natural biofiltration.

Perhaps most importantly, this project received funding assistance from Clean Water State Revolving Fund. “This allowed us to focus on proactive stormwater management and treatment and filtration, rather than just standard stormwater installation — gray infrastructure,” observed Jason Craft, Clinton City Engineer. “The money made available by SRF allowed a cleaner and greener project to be constructed.”

Midland, Michigan

Installed: August 2017

Silva Cells: 600 (2x)

Silva Cell Trees: 58

In 2016, a Main Street upgrade initiative was kicked off in Midland, Michigan. The goal was to “balance the need for landscape character with the contemporary best practices for encouraging civic and business use of sidewalks.”

Silva Cells were utilized to help grow nearly 60 trees along the renovated streetscape and its widened pedestrian pathways — and the trees are thriving.

Indeed, a local report assessing further development in Midland, because of the town’s successful track record with Silva Cells, requires the system for all future projects: “Trees in grates in downtown Midland shall be installed with Silva Cells, a product which supports the sidewalk structurally while promoting tree growth and health through the provision of uncompacted planting soil underneath the walks.”

Rockwall, Texas

Installed: August 2014

Silva Cells: 260 (1x)

Silva Cell Trees: 7

With a history dating back to the late 19th century, the downtown district in Rockwall, Texas, began its renovation in the early 2010s. Improving connectivity with sidewalk enhancements and pedestrian-friendly roads was a top priority, as well as addressing outdated sewer and utility networks below ground.

San Jacinto Street was among the most important corridors in line for renovation, transforming from a one-way road to a pedestrian plaza, complete with retail shopping and musical events.

The DeepRoot Silva Cell system was installed in 2014 under the road’s new red brick hardscape, providing versatility for underground utilities, support for both foot traffic and occasional vehicle deliveries, and uncompacted soil for the seven new plaza trees.

Read our full case study of the project here.

Aiken, South Carolina

Installed: November 2015

Silva Cells: 340 (1x)

Silva Cell Trees: 12

Previously a low-traffic, one-way alley between Newberry Street and Bee Street, the new pedestrian plaza in Aiken, South Carolina — known affectionately as “The Alley” — was erected in 2015-16.

This downtown project included a brand-new vision for what the road could be: a community space with retail shops and restaurants where visitors could gather and visit. The utility network on site was vastly overhauled; likewise, a dozen new trees were incorporated into The Alley, supported by 340 Silva Cells which provide uncompacted soil volume and an underground foundation for the new brick walkway.

Lebanon, Indiana

Installed: July 2018

Silva Cells: 360 (2x)

Silva Cell Trees: 21

Construction for the newly designed downtown area surrounding the Boone County Courthouse in Lebanon, Indiana, broke ground in 2018. Along the south side, Main Street received particular attention where a continuation of the new Big 4 Trail — a walkable pathway through multiple Indiana counties — was built though town.

Between the trail and the road, 21 new trees were planted — installed in 360 (2x) Silva Cells to ensure appropriate soil volume for flourishing root expansion. Less than half a decade later and the street trees are already showing promising growth, creating a welcoming atmosphere in front of the businesses lining Main Street.

Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

Installed: August 2018

Silva Cells: 252 (2x)

Silva Cell Trees: 44

Originally starting as just a downtown utility upgrade, the improvement initiative in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, quickly evolved into a larger project with the goal of overhauling the streetscape for a better visitor experience.

With over 6,000 feet of streetscape enhancements, the downtown Wauwatosa area now known as The Village features flexible outdoor spaces, bike lanes, and a curb-less shared plaza with 44 newly planted trees. The Silva Cell system was utilized to support the paving and provide the greatest opportunity for large canopy growth.

The Wauwatosa project received the Wisconsin ASLA Merit Award for accomplishing “the master plan vision of an elegant and modern update to The Village while enhancing and celebrating its historic character.”

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