Colourful street trees continue...

Colourful street trees continue to thrive in Rossland, Canada

Rossland is a small, alpine city located halfway between Vancouver and Calgary, just 6km north of the U.S. border. With a population of just over 3,500, Rossland is a little piece of paradise for locals and outdoor enthusiasts. It is known and loved for its natural beauty and is one of Canada’s highest cities.

In 2013, Rossland underwent a full revitalisation, which aimed to preserve green infrastructure and protect natural ecosystems, allowing healthy trees to grow. Citygreen played a vital role in this project, installing tree pits to create a corridor of trees, which continue to thrive in 2018. In this case study, we explore the evolution of the site from then to now, including recent comments from project stakeholders.

Creating ideal conditions for healthy trees

Prior to the rejuvenation project, the site was flawed by ineffective infrastructure. Previous efforts to grow healthy trees had been unsuccessful, and the streetscapes were suffering as a result.

At the time, Jeff Schurek, CSLA, Landscape Manager / Senior Landscape Architect of ISL Engineering and Land Services Ltd in Canada said, “The existing trees were about 10 to 15 years old and they hadn’t grown due to the trees being installed in pits that were just a two-meter square. The trees were doing extremely poorly. This is not an acceptable way to grow trees”.

This view was confirmed by Kevin Terness, Senior Project Engineer from ISL Engineering and Land Services, who said “In an effort to maximize the hard surface area for pedestrians, the trees had to sacrifice topsoil volume”. The result was a collection of urban trees that were mature in age, but not in appearance.

Close-up photo of tree - Mainstreet Rossland

Stratacell soil cells tick all the boxes

After reviewing a range of different products, the project team chose Citygreen. Citygreen’s Stratacell soil system was selected as the best product for several reasons:

  • The landscape architects loved Stratacell’s low impact design qualities and the fact that over 94% of total soil volume is available for tree root growth.
  • The engineers were impressed by Stratacell’s excellent strength (Stratacell’s structural soil cell system is up to 3 x stronger than any other product).
  • The contractors enjoyed the hassle-free installation process, which requires no zip ties, screws or ground spikes – Stratacell modules simply snap together.
  • Stratacell provided the necessary soil volumes to allow sidewalks to be constructed over the soil cells. This meant that snow removal equipment could operate smoothly.

A smooth and efficient installation

The Stratacell installation took approximately 5 weeks, with Citygreen providing on-site support to solve problems and create efficiencies. “Citygreen was there throughout the various stages of the process in terms of technical review,” said Schurek. “They were on-site solving real issues to work with the contractor to come up with better solutions in the best way possible.”

stratacell installation - Mainstreet Rossland

In addition to Stratacell soil cells, a drip-line irrigation system was installed throughout the linked tree pits, together with Citygreen’s ArborVent system. ArborVent provides a permanent irrigation/aeration system and, in turn, prevents soil stagnation.

While Citygreen products were new to the contractor, there were no problems with installation. “Once the contractor understood the process, everything went smoothly”, said Terness. In fact, at the time of installation, the contractor commented that the process was much faster with Citygreen systems when compared to others he’d used.

Landscape Upgrade - Rossland

An outstanding and lasting result

In keeping with Citygreen’s commitment to service, we’ve stayed in touch with key project stakeholders. In 2016, 3 years after installation, we spoke to Jim Markin, the arborist from the City of Rossland, who sung praises of the project. “Tree uptake has been 100% successful with the trees maturing quickly and establishing well”, he said.

Street trees - Rossland Canada

Just recently, in September 2018, we contacted Jim again for comment. While Jim has since moved on to private consulting, he’s maintained an interest in the project. He confirmed that the trees were “growing very well, with excellent vibrancy, size and colour”. He also noted that “compliments about the landscaping are endless. Most people have forgotten about the soil cell structure underneath”.

The success of the project was further endorsed by Stacey Lightbourne, a planner from the City of Rossland. “The trees have grown tremendously. The community loves these trees, particularly the colours they display in the fall”, she said.

The stunning trees have transformed the landscape in the main street of Rossland, Canada. By all accounts, these urban trees will continue to delight for decades to come.


“Great customer service, quick response times and a very in depth QA system with constant support.”

- Laura Wiesenekker, Project Engineer, Densford Civil -

“Citygreen is a very professional  business, and I found everything was great in terms of deliveries, product supply and information. It was all forthcoming and helped us to complete the project.”

- Keith Burns, Architect/Designer, Keith Burns Architect -

“Citygreen offered training and invaluable technical assistance during the works.”

- James Callan, Estimating Manager, Complex Co Pty Ltd -

“Our experience, in working with a Citygreen Design Studio was second to none. We found responses from the design studio to be very timely, and technically thorough. We went backwards and forwards a number of times, looking at different iterations of the design and, nothing was too much trouble to examine and explore different possibilities. I would highly recommend the Citygreen Design Studio to any future client considering using your services.”

- Sandra Smith, Principal Landscape Architect, City Of Monash -

“We are big on compliance on all projects, and the fact that their SmartCertify cloud platform covers all bases, and supports their 20 year warranties, is critical – especially that these pits are being installed under roadways and footpaths.”

- Johny Purkaystha, Civil Program Engineer, Central Coast Council -

"I reviewed all the previous projects that we have installed in the past couple years using your product and I can happily report back that we have 0% mortality in the soil cells, which is incredible!"

- Brendan Wilton, CEO, Trim Landscaping, Bedford, Canada -