Date:December 27, 2012

Clemson University

Silva Cell: A Sustainable Approach to Tree Planting

Trees struggle to survive in the urban environment. The density and structure of cities create heavy soil compaction and greatly reduce space for planting and growth. These oppressive conditions provide limited access to the air, water, and nutrients trees need to survive.

Silva Cell is a suspended pavement system that serves as an energy efficient alternative to previous urban tree planting methods. A modular frame and deck system is inserted into the ground and filled with high quality soil. Silva Cell’s breathable infrastructure fosters healthy root growth by providing ample space for root expansion and immediate access to nutrient rich soil. In addition, the system allows for rainwater absorption and serves as a storm water management system; it is capable of capturing and processing up to two inches of rainfall.

In the summer of 2011, eight large, severely declining Willow Oaks located in front of Clemson University’s football stadium were removed. The trees were compromised because a detailed site plan had not been realized prior to planting. Tree roots were unable to expand due to close proximity to walls and streets and suffered from highly compacted soil. As the University’s tree care partner of choice, Arborguard installed eight Silva Cells and planted new Willow Oaks in place of the malnourished trees. The installation took about a week and the trees were planted smoothly and successfully.

Recent testing has shown that this unobtrusive planting method is far more effective than applied structural soil because it provides trees with immediate access to the elements crucial for survival. Arborguard looks forward to future collaborations with universities, office parks, and other urban spaces to provide innovative planting solutions for trees.