Can the Latest Advancement in Urban Infrastructure Benefit Your City?

One of the most common problems urban trees face is having sufficient soil and space to properly grow. Crowded cities make it challenging to mimic the natural environment in which trees thrive. Thanks to emerging green technology, cities are beginning to implement greener practices in construction that are saving cities tree repair costs down the road and creating a healthier setting for trees to grow.

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Silva cells allow water and nutrients to reach tree roots through loose soil.

Ordinarily when trees are planted in metropolitan settings they are buried under hard surfaces such as sidewalks and roads. These surfaces have to be robust enough to handle heavy vehicles. Naturally, the result of such weight is soil compaction. Soil compaction constricts water, air, and nutrients from reaching the roots, stunting the growth of trees and even leading to structural failures.

In 2007 DeepRoot introduced the Silva cell —the first commercially available soil containment system to be used in construction that supports heavy asphalt surfaces without compacting soil surrounding tree roots — a breakthrough in urban infrastructure.

So how does it work?

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Silva cells being installed in Lincoln, NE

The rigid frame is designed like a modular suspended pavement by transferring above ground loads down to a compacted sub-base while the inside of the system is filled with loose soil for roots to access. In addition to the loose soil, the system also acts as a stormwater management system, absorbing runoff and storing a large amount of water, creating an underground rain garden.

While the technology is new and still evolving, there have been more than 500 installations of Silva cells in 10 different countries. The results have been outstanding with reports of healthy tree growth, including longer bud extensions and trees flourishing to full maturity.

Lincoln, Nebraska is participating in the trend with four installations of Silva Cells at construction sites, including near the Arbor Day Foundation headquarter offices.

Is your city installing Silva cells? What other approaches is your city implementing to promote healthy urban and community forests? You may also enjoy reading our How to Save Trees During Construction, a Tree City USA Bulletin.

 

Planting Trees to Attract Birds

While birds are a joy to watch and listen to all year American-Mountainash_3-872long, it is particularly during the long winter months when their bright and cheerful presence is even more appreciated. Following an especially cold and dreary winter, the coming of spring brings thoughts of planting trees and shrubs to attract these delightful feathered friends. While they certainly enrich our lives with their presence when they grace our yards and gardens, we, too, can do much for them by providing necessary food sources and habitat.

By planting certain species of trees and shrubs, you can provide year-long natural food sources for these creatures, particularly during times of year when food is scarce. Selecting several trees or shrubs that have berries during different times of the year are great choices—and most also provide beauty in the form of spring blossoms or vibrant fall foliage. Blackhaw-Viburnum_1Great choices include Dogwood, Serviceberry, Mulberry, Viburnum, Sargent Crabapple, American Mountainash, Black Tupelo, Juniper and Winterberry Holly.

The cover trees and shrubs provide is also vital for attracting birds, as they need areas of shelter and protection for breeding, nesting, sleeping, traveling, and hiding from enemies. Many trees and shrubs can be both sources of cover and food; some good choices include Canadian Hemlock, Fir, Spruce, Eastern Redcedar, Birch, and Oak.

The Arbor Day Foundation and arborday.org are great sources of information.  White-Fir_1-839Our Tree City USA Bulletin #13: Trees for Wildlife and Conservation Trees: How to Attract Songbirds and Wildlife are excellent resources.

And please remember to provide a water source. Birds, like all wildlife, need water, and by installing a bird bath or other water feature, you will attract even more birds and provide a better habitat for them. Be sure to change the water frequently and keep it free of ice in the winter.

Ready to attract birds to your yard and garden but don’t know where to start?

Among the several free landscape designs available for download is the “Hedgerow Bird Shelter” also known as the “Bird Magnet.” Bird-MagnetBird-LayoutDesigned by registered landscape architect and president of Kersey/Wike Associates, Joel T. Parker, this landscape plan is attractive to birds by way of food and shelter as well as providing visual interest for all seasons. It includes the use of Washington Hawthorne, American Cranberrybush Viburnum, Arrowwood Viburnum and Winterberry Holly. A useful addition to any bird-lover’s property, this landscape plan is a source of beauty and enjoyment. Read more about the details of this design plan on the original arborday.org blog post.

Prairifire-Flowering-Crabapple_1-820The arborday.org tree nursery also offers a Trees for Birds Collection, a bird-friendly tree package containing one of each of the following: Purpleleaf Sand Cherry, Prairiefire Crab, American Mountainash, Canadian Hemlock and Norway Spruce.

What trees attract birds to your yard? Do you have any specific types of birds that seem to love your trees and shrubs? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

Which late-blooming trees and shrubs suit your garden?

Having a garden that provides year-round interest is easy with some careful planning. For the best results, carefully choose your trees and shrubs so that some flower in early spring, others in late spring/summer, and yet others that flower in the fall or carry their blooms through the winter. This will ensure plenty of activity in your garden from birds and wildlife, as well as giving your landscape a variety of colors and shapes. Following are three late-blooming trees and shrubs that are easy to grow and will brighten up your lawn or street.

Read more…

Trees, the 800-Lb. Gorillas in the Yard

Don’t get me wrong, I love trees. I’ve never actually been caught in the act of hugging any, to be sure. But neither will you ever catch me with a yard without trees. I just couldn’t imagine warming up to a landscape without them. The importance of the vertical element they supply in landscape design is not to be underestimated.

But now that I’ve established my credentials as a lover of trees, let me state what I really set out to say when I sat down to write this blog post today. Large trees, as indispensable as they are, pose an awfully difficult challenge in landscaping — unless that’s all you wish to grow in your yard. Read more…

Adding Trees and Shrubs to your Garden

Gardening has been a hot topic around my house lately.  The past few summers my wife has been interested in creating a garden but the timing has never been right.  This summer she is determined to make it happen. 

We recently sold our house and purchased a new house, allowing her to fully commit to creating the garden.  She recently order vegetable seeds and is starting to make plans on the location of the raised planter bed in the new backyard.  I reminded her that in addition to the traditional vegetable garden crops that we could add some edible trees and shrubs.  The strong benefit of trees and shrubs besides providing a new source of “groceries” is that we only need to plant them once compared to some vegetables. 

There are many choices that we can make but was reminded by one of her magazines to plant what you will eat.  That narrows down our choices since we are both picky eaters. 

In the end we agreed that we are going to explore finding a space an apple tree

Any suggestions on other fruit trees or nut trees we should add?  We have limited space in our new backyard.

Forsythia mark the arrival of spring

There are two things that you need to know about me.

1) I am a runner.
2) I am not a tree expert.

In both of these areas I am trying to get better.

I really love marathon training. Part of the reason I like it so much is because I get to be outside and explore. Training gives me the freedom to explore quite a bit of different areas, and being on foot gives you a unique perspective to appreciation the things around you. In the car, I don’t take the time to look at what is going on. I am just focused on the task at hand, driving.

Recently, I have been learning quite a bit about types of trees and shrubs and tree care. This new knowledge made me more excited than ever for the trees to start blooming. One of most recognizable shrubs for me early this spring was the Forsythia. The yellow flowers of the Forsythia appeared weeks before most plants even had green buds on them. This was an encouraging sign. The added yellow color in yards was my signal that spring was just around the corner. Read more…

Best Privacy Screen Trees and Shrubs

Planning your Privacy Screen

When designing your yard you may want to take into account your privacy needs. Do you need a good screen to reduce traffic noise or prevent passersby from looking into your yard? In fact the main advantages of having a living privacy screen are: protection from the elements, an improved view from your house, and less intrusion from pedestrians or neighbors.

Getting organized requires making some important decisions before starting out. The first factor to take into account is the type of tree you would like to have: Remember that an evergreen will provide you with a year-round screen, whereas a deciduous tree will provide fall color or flowers but not year-round privacy.

Read more…

Help! My Roots Are Showing

A question I often receive from homeowners goes something like this:

“I have this big pine tree out in my front yard. Nothing grows very well under it, making that area basically an expanse of dirt and weeds. Over the years, some of the roots have become exposed, making the area even messier-looking. Is it OK to cover the area under the tree with a load of loam, then plant perennials in that soil?”

Sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? Read more…

Landscaping with Trees: Adding Contrasting Color

This landscape design for trees and shrubs will add contrasting early spring color. This free do-it-yourself tree and shrub landscape design provides a show of spring flowers highlighted by an evergreen backdrop of the Green Giant Arborvitae. This planting can serve as a great focal point or accent piece to any yard I call it the “Flowering Green Giant

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Tree and Shrub Rain Garden Design

Tree and Shrub Rain Garden Design

Turn a moist or poorly drained area of your yard into a beautiful garden that provides year round color and habitat for songbirds. The trees and shrubs in this design have been selected both for their beauty and their ability to thrive in moist areas.

Rain Garden Specifications:

Included Species:

1 – Sweetbay Magnolia

3 – Redosier Dogwood

3 – Winterberry Holly

Hardiness Zone:

5-7

Read more…