Effective urban tree planting systems address all issues concerning the planting of trees in the urban environment. The right root growth capacity, stormwater management and managing heavy traffic loads while integrating existing and new utilities.
Urban tree planting solutions
For trees to grow into big, healthy, mature and functional trees it takes a lot more than digging holes and just planting them, especially in the urban environment. Sometimes we seem to forget that trees grow and that there should be a balance between the tree size and the root system. Functional trees specify the right soil volume according to the required growing space of the future tree’s canopy size.
It’s obvious that city green beautifies our urban environment. Besides being beautiful, only urban trees can provide so many other benefits that they are regarded as the basis of a city’s green infrastructure.
The most important benefit is it being the solution to slow down climate change. Large urban trees cool our warming planet, reduce flood risks and function as an excellent means of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releasing oxygen. Planting trees can contribute to a healthier planet while improving our daily lives, for example by decreasing high blood pressure and stress. Planting trees today is essential for future generations.
TREES IN THE URBAN CONTEXT
It’s an accepted fact that mature trees can contribute significantly to healthier soil, air and water in cities. But cities are not typically hospitable places for plant growth, and few trees live long enough to reach maturity and provide meaningful ecological services.
We take into account that the urban soil is used in a multifunctional way; urban forestry, civil works and water management, while dealing with different expectation patterns of trees than in rural areas. Trees in cities need room to thrive without damaging the pavement and underground infrastructures.
The challenges of combining green, blue and grey infrastructures:
Lack of space: Every inch of the city has already been claimed by various functions; road foundation, sewer systems, parking places, utilities etc. With only small spaces available, highly effective soil volume is needed to ensure that trees will grow into big trees.
Utilities running everywhere: When you want to plant a tree in the city, there may be existing utilities located in the same area as your planned digging. And not always where you expect them to be. Relocating those utilities is not budgeted for and it is therefore most cost-effective if the tree pit can integrate with the utilities as they are.
Road building specifications: Trees need loose, well aerated soil in contrast to road building which needs highly compacted soil. Trees attempting to grow in compacted soil rarely meet their full growth potential and may die prematurely or damage the pavement while trying to survive.
Disturbed water cycle: Urban soil and trees are drying out while we are channelling water away via sewer systems. This is a principle that is often applied. It makes more sense to first let the tree benefit from the rain before it drains away. There is a need for solutions that are based on circular rather than linear processes.
Because of these harsh conditions in the city, we have to try and create the most ideal situation for the tree. The time for mono-functional use of space has passed.