Designing Healthy, Lasting Trees in the Urban Landscape


A California study found that for every $1 spent on tree planting and maintenance, urban trees deliver $5.82 in benefits. Incorporating trees into urban landscapes improves stormwater management, reduces urban heat island effect, improves air quality, increases property values and contributes to overall quality of life. Green infrastructure and sustainable landscapes are crucial in highly-populated cities for health, social and ecological benefits. When designed properly, trees in urban areas can live for several decades. Unfortunately, over 50% of urban trees have a high mortality rate and don't make it to see their 10th birthday, as a result of unhealthy root systems and demands of engineered surfaces around them.

Urban street tree survivability can be severely impacted by a number of factors including inadequate soil design and a limited rooting zone.

Soil cell systems and soil support systems have a positive effect on the movement of air, water, and other nutrients required for trees to mature. These products are designed for maximum soil and rooting volume and are made completely of interlocking, recycled materials.

When soil cell systems are implemented early-on, a significant amount of benefits are seen for the life span of the tree, including: reduced maintenance requirements, and a greater amount of storm water runoff being absorbed into the root systems, allowing the tree to grow to its full potential.

Trees provide a multitude of Eco-friendly benefits to a highly populated city. Urban trees offer a simple solution to improving air quality by absorbing small particulate matter and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. They offer breeze and shade to surrounding buildings, which, in-return, reduces energy consumption from air conditioning use. Furthermore, a healthy tree canopy in urban areas enhances physical health and well-being by offering a large covered area for residents to walk, bike and run. Trees and other types of landscaping can acts as a barrier between civilization and traffic emissions. Trees reduce urban heat island effect, which has a significant impact on global climate change, human health, extreme weather patterns, and increased energy demands. Many cities are revising their zoning codes to include measures, like the inclusion of trees in construction projects, which reduce heat island effects.

Sustainable landscapes can transform and bring a community together. Carefully designed places act as a catalyst for growth and provide measurable benefits for public health and environmental quality.

For more information on our Landscape Architecture services, contact Thomas Robinson, Sr. Managing Landscape Architect, at


Resources for Maintaining Urban Forestry: