10 Year Tree Canopy Achieved in 5 Years


Laman Street 20221117 144525 Citygreen


Connected tree canopy in less than 10 years

Laman street, in the heart of Newcastle, Australia, is known for its majestic avenue of fig and jacaranda trees that have grown to meet in the middle and create a stunning continuous canopy overhead. The trees are a host to a variety of native bird species; offer a cool, shady respite for residents and visitors atop the civic park stairs and a fittingly picture-perfect entrance to the Newcastle Art Gallery.

However, the story of the Laman Street fig trees is one of great controversy and while their impressive size has the appearance of them having been there, ‘forever’, they were planted only 10 years ago+.

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1 year growth
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5 year growth



Laman Street, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia




City of Newcastle

Tree Species

Ficus microcarpa* and Jacaranda mimosifolia

Number of trees

10 ficus and two jacaranda


Cohabitation of giant fig trees with modern infrastructure

*Ficus microcarpa is a tropical or subtropical tree native to China, Asia and Australia where it’s often planted for ornamental purposes and shading. In Australia’s climate it grows to around 12m in height with a crown of equal spread.
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10 year growth

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How fig trees divided a city

In 1931 well-intentioned city planners planted a series of Hills Weeping fig trees along Laman Street, to improve the leafiness of Newcastle civic centre, a town built around industry and mining, that had been left bereft of trees.

Fast forward several decades later to the early 2000’s, the figs had reached maturity and were now sharing space with asphalt roads, concrete pavement, kerbs, gutters and underground utilities. Concerns arose about the structural integrity of some of the trees and Newcastle City Council initiated plans to remove some of the trees citing safety concerns, as there were fears branches could fall and cause harm.

However, over the decades, the fig trees had created an iconic streetscape, often referred to as the town’s ‘green cathedral’ for its lush interlocking canopy in close proximity to a number of historic churches in Newcastle. So, when Council proposed to remove the figs it sparked significant opposition from local residents, environmental groups, and community activists. They argued for the preservation of the trees, to preserve their amenity, cultural, historical, and environmental importance.

In response, the Council commissioned an independent investigation into the condition of the trees, and the safety risk they posed. The trees were found to have too few large structural roots resulting in an almost linear root plate. Planted too close to the kerb, it acted as a pivot point under wind load adding extra stress on the root systems which were already vulnerable to extreme weather events. Ultimately, the study found the trees were highly unstable and that they posed a significant health and safety risk.

october 2010 laman street honk sign 2 Citygreen
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Why had the fig trees become unstable?

Their instability was due to the method in which they had been planted, coupled with a lack of knowledge of their growth patterns, compounded by the efects of encroaching modern infrastructure.

20240716111712 1 CitygreenThe trees were planted in standard root-ball tree pits and had outgrown the space available to them. Unable to sustain the large, healthy root systems needed to support their immense canopies, their planting had become an entombment. They were slowly dying, their limbs falling off as precursor to a ticking time-bomb. And that bomb went off in 2007 when the catastrophic Pasha Bulka storm hit Newcastle and four of the fig trees came crashing down.

Still, the controversy around removing the trees continued, leading to legal battles and extensive public debate until 2011, when, after years of dispute, 10 of the fig trees were felled in the interest of public safety.

The attachment the community had developed for the Laman Street fig trees motivated Council to explore the possibility of restoring new fig trees to the street but in way that would ensure peaceful cohabitation with the hardscape and underground infrastructure in the area.

After discussions with Citygreen, their expertise in growing healthy trees in challenging urban environments convinced Council the seemingly impossible, was in fact achievable.

“It would have been much easier to replace the Hills Weeping fig trees with a variety of alternative species, better suited to urban environments, but that wouldhave marked a sad end of the trees planted almost a hundred years ago,” explains Catherine Atkinson, Head of Projects, at Citygreen. “However we were delighted the City of Newcastle wanted to honour the legacy of the original figs and so we devised a solution for replacing them with a species as closely related to the original as possible.”



“Fig trees as a species are notorious for pavement heave which ruins the value of the infrastructure. But trees should be seen in quite the opposite way - as value adding.”

Laman Street Case Study2 1 Citygreen

Figs are naturally surface rooting and this is often a problem for urban environments where pavement heave is prevalent.

“Fig trees as a species are notorious for pavement heave which ruins the value of the infrastructure. But trees should be seen in quite the opposite way - as value adding. If chosen and planted correctly, trees can thrive in urban areas offering a myriad of benefits such as improving air quality, regulating temperature through shading and cooling, encouraging biodiversity and improving physical and mental health,” says Atkinson.

Citygreen’s structural soil vault system solved the Laman Street fig tree problem by providing all the space their roots needed to grow, but in a directed, managed way which avoids damage to infrastructure. The roots spread into the vaulted spaces allowing them to develop as stable and healthy root systems that are more resilient under climate stress.

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The open matrix design of the Citygreen structural soil vaults were filled with a specified soil mix designed to deliver the highly aerated soil conditions figs prefer, providing optimal soil conditions for growth and to establish structural root systems.

“The advanced soil vault systems deliver the conditions trees need to grow but, in an infrastructure and services friendly way. They are engineered to be load-bearing for pavements and protect the tree roots from pressure and compaction,” continues Atkinson.

Permeable pavement was installed above the Citygreen solution to capture polluted stormwater run-off and harvest it for passive tree irrigation.

Results have exceed expectations

Laman Street comparison4 1 Citygreen

The City of Newcastle reaped the benefits of their investment after only a few years:

  • 10-year growth projections were achieved in half that time
  • The new connected canopy cover now rivals the former 80-year-old trees, 10 years after planting
  • Surrounding infrastructure has been unaffected by the fast-growing root systems
  • The figs are a picture of health, restoring the amenity to the street for residents, visitors and local biodiversity
  • Three trees are hosts to an array of native birds and flying foxes

Ultimately the story of the Laman Street figs is about how these trees have been effectively managed and successfully re-introduced into the urban environment. Citygreen structural soil vaults addressed all of the problems experienced by the original Hills Weeping figs by supporting the above ground infrastructure, increasing soil volume, and reducing soil compaction to grow healthier climate resilient trees to be enjoyed by many generations to come.

Laman Street comparison5 1 Citygreen

“With vast improvements in the public amenity, the Citygreen soil cell system has allowed the iconic Laman streetscape to live on, and we are pleased that it will be enjoyed by many generations to come.”

- Atkinson

Redesigning a Legacy: 172 New Trees Planted at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena

Redesigning a Legacy: 172 New Trees Planted at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena

Looking to Grow Your Green Legacy?

Key Facts

334 1st Ave N, Seattle,
WA 98109, United States


Climate Pledge Arena

Swift Company
Oak View Group

Climate Pledge Arena Case Study

climate pledge arena


Located within the Seattle Center, Climate Pledge Arena stands as a transformative redevelopment of a historic site originally constructed for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair which saw over 10 million visitors.

This multifaceted venue proudly hosts the NHL’s Seattle Kraken, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, and showcases the world's foremost live music acts and events seating up to 18,000 people.

Named The Climate Pledge after an initiative by Amazon and Global Optimism made in 2019, dedicated to achieving global net zero carbon status by 2040. The construction started in 2018 and the grand opening of Climate Pledge Arena took place on October 22, 2022.


The Next Layer of Trees

render of climate pledge arena redesign

Artist impression of Climate Pledge Arena

Landscape architects, Swift Company were able to protect 107 historic and mature trees around the perimeter of Climate Pledge Arena.

With the planting of an additional 172 trees and 38,000 square feet of new trees and plant areas. Swift Company took a successional forest approach where they looked at the already established mature tree canopy on the perimeter of the arena and designed the next generation and layer of tree canopy.

As highlighted by Swift Company Principal, Gareth Loveridge:

“The entire perimeter was about how do we get more green space and tree environments that invite people in. The more trees we get in there, the more benefit we provide for their daily lives.”  

Using Stratavault for Soil Volume

climate pledge 004 Citygreen

In most urban settings trees struggle to grow to maturity due to lack of space for tree roots and soil volume.

For Climate Pledge Arena, Stratavault soil cells was key to the planting of new urban trees and increasing soil quantity and volume to already established mature trees around the perimeter.

The demand for robust infrastructure necessitates heavily compacted ground, crucial for supporting above-ground structures. However, this compaction restricts access to vital elements—nutrients, water, and oxygen—essential for optimal tree root growth.

As a consequence, tree roots must work harder expanding their tree roots to find suitable nutrients, water, and oxygen to grow which leads to a reduced growth rate and in some cases tree death due to root girdling.

The 100% recycled plastic stratavault matrix works by taking infrastructure load off the tree roots and soil. Giving the tree and soil a more natural uncompacted growing profile when compared to traditional structural soil planting methods.


broken planting bed details Citygreen

Infographic on how stratavault grows and protects street trees

The Stratavault system increases the total soil volume available to the tree by over 90%, a substantial improvement compared to traditional structural soil methods, which typically allocate only 20% of usable area to soil the tree can use.

Structural Soil vs Soil Cell Citygreen

Void Space highlights volume available for tree roots

The increase in soil volume helps improve the performance of the tree ensuring that the tree canopy and the range of benefits across environmental, economic, and healthcare are fast-tracked while protecting the infrastructure and tree roots from damaging each other.

Using Stratavault for Climate Pledge Arena also ensured that the landscape architects could plant larger, more established trees thereby further speeding up the results.

Using Stratavault for Stormwater Management

Strataflow Render Citygreen

Stratavault also allowed Swift Company to innovate their stormwater management design to incorporate green-blue infrastructure with on-site rainfall and stormwater directed into nearby tree pits through strip drains, pervious pavements, and micro grading of the pavement to direct stormwater.

“It lets the ground plane do exactly what we want it to do, and we’re not making compromises”
Gareth Loveridge, Swift Company

example of WSUD elements being used to feed a stratavault tree pit

Strip drain and snorkil to allow water and oxygen exchange

This allows the trees to detain significant waterflows in the stratavault matrix reducing the strain on the city's municipalities during high rain events while improving the growth rate of the trees as the soil and tree roots use the water for increased tree health and canopy development.

“The water cycle in Seattle is dynamic and there’s plenty of times where we want to slow the water down and soil cells really let us do that” 
Gareth Loveridge, Swift Company

Additionally, using soil and tree roots clean the water of pollutants which ensures that water that does trickle through the tree pit back into the city municipalities will be cleaner.


First Stadium to Earn Net Zero Carbon Certification

climate pledge arena green exterior


In October 2023, Climate Pledge Arena lives up to its name and became the first stadium to earn ILFI certification. The energy profile of a stadium is quite complex, from restaurants, sporting spaces, lounges, offices, retail, and public transport. So, the team had to investigate ways to reduce and sequester their carbon footprint across electricity usage waste, and environmental impact.

During the global pandemic, they redesigned the entire facility to be 100% electric & worked with local energy companies to purchase renewable energy credits as Seattle's reliance on hydropower isn’t recognized by ILFI’s standards and will switch to a newly completed solar and wind farm soon.

Across waste they are working with suppliers to stop the use of single use plastics and they estimate that over 95% of waste is saved from landfill.

Tree Canopy, Living walls, and planting initiatives were major considerations for the landscape with over 12,000 plants and trees planted. The added greenery will help sequester carbon and reduce urban heat through shade mitigation and evapotranspiration of the trees and plants' leaves, and help foster biodiversity in the region.


“We have to address issues of heat island effect and temperature, the integration of soil cells into the fabric of the city is essential to being able to build the tree canopy of a city”

Barbara Swift, Swift Company


Climate Pledge Arena is an environmental legacy that serves over 200 events annually and is at the forefront of carbon performance in the stadium and arena space. The valuable addition of 172 trees will continue to grow, shade, and serve the community for decades to come.

People Enjoying Climate Pledge Arena park

Interested in growing your own green legacy? Book a Free Consult with one of our Urban Greening Consultants to find out how.



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Glenora School Case Study

School Lined with Trees to Provide Shade and Stormwater Detention

Key Facts

13520 102 Ave NW,
Edmonton, Canada


Glenora School

Citygreen PROJECTS

EDA Planning + Urban Design
Cutting Edge Landscapes

Glenora School Case Study

Glenora Elementary School has provided education to downtown Edmonton for the past 100 years. In 2021, it was decided that the school needed a renewal of the amenities to the parking lot, sidewalks, and a general facelift to the school entryway. EDA Planning + Urban Design’s project team decided to take a more progressive step when designing the renewal and really focus on creating a cohesive stormwater management plan.

EDA’s project team established that Citygreen's ‘Stratavault’ soil vault solution was the best solution for establishing a holistic blue+green infrastructure plan


Why Use Stratavault for Stormwater Detainment?

Stratavault is the leading solution for creating ideal underground conditions for trees to grow in urban areas and was key to ensuring EDA Planning + Urban Design could deliver on its blue + green infrastructure plan. The flexibility offered by the matrix design opens up their team with the opportunity for services to be integrated within the soil vault and ensure on-site resources are used efficiently. In this project stratavault delivered in two main areas: 


  • The stratavault modular matrix design enables void space under highly compact urban areas such as the sidewalk and parking lot, providing high quality uncompacted soil to the tree roots. This ensures that we can control the quality of soil the tree needs while the stratavault matrix made form 100% recycled plastic takes the weight of the surrounding infrastructure away from the tree roots.

  • Stormwater runoff from parking lots and rooftops is captured and detained in the stratavault soil cells, reducing the amount of water entering the city's infrastructure during high level rain events and enabling the water to be used locally by trees and soil.

Stratavault being installed at glenora school in edmonton

Stratavault presented the project with an integrated solution that unites rooftop and parking lot stormwater management with landscape tree design. In contrast to traditional methods that channels stormwater into the city's infrastructure, reducing on-site water resources and placing extra strain on municipal systems during heavy rain events, redirecting on-site stormwater into soil vaults offers an effective means of handling the initial rush of rainfall storage.

This stored water can be utilized by the tree roots and soil and subsequently discharged into the city's systems at a later time, promoting sustainability and efficient water use as the soil and tree roots will clean the stormwater pollutants.


Glenora render Citygreen 



“The biggest value of working with soil cells, specifically the Stratavault system is their flexibility and layout. It's a fully integrated and connected system that can be cut to any shape that you want” 


Will Packolyk
Principal, Landscape Architect
EDA Planning + Urban Design 


How has the Stormwater been used since project completion? 

Will Packolyk from EDA Planning + Urban Design observed minimal effluents being discharged from the system, which indicates how effective using a Stratavault pit is for capturing high level rain events and using the water to irrigate onsite trees is. This not only reduces the strain on the city's infrastructure by managing the initial surge of stormwater but also mitigates the risk of on-site and infrastructure flooding, all while providing a valuable source of water for the trees.

pipes for stormwater management in a stratavault pit

Related: Sustainable ways to Manage Stormwater

The retention of stormwater has also fostered the development of a robust tree canopy and led to a half-inch increase in tree trunk diameter during the initial two years of growth. Will's emphasised the system's efficiency in lessening the burden on the city's infrastructure, enhancing safety and overall well-being for the school community. By redirecting stormwater into a purposeful and sustainable use, such as the Stratavault tree pit, the system not only safeguards the school but also ensures that vital public spaces remain accessible and safe during severe weather events.

Glenora School Render Citygreen

Is Blue Green Infrastructure the future of Stormwater Management?

The decision to use stormwater runoff to nourish the trees represents a industry shift in the way stormwater is being managed in urban landscaping developments. This synergy between stormwater management and urban forestry takes a page from nature to create a sustainable ecosystem not usually present in urban environments. Trees, with their deep-rooted capacity to absorb water, not only thrive in the conditions soil vaults create, also actively contribute to the improvement of air quality, the mitigation of the urban heat island effect through shade and evapotranspiration, and increase the overall aesthetic of the space.

The integration of the Stratavault soil vault for stormwater management has proven to be a multi-faceted success story and we believe stormwater management that uses both blue and green infrastructure is the future making it a model for sustainable urban development.


‘Stratavault is by far the easier product in this technology to worth with. It is simpler to train our staff. It allows less opportunities for mistakes, due to the simplicity of the install and the structure."

Kris Sloan
Cutting Edge Landscapes 


What Trees were Planted? 

glenora case study 001 Citygreen

Japanese Lilacs were chosen as the ideal tree species for this project due to their suitability for the Canadian climate and their numerous benefits for a school location. These trees, with their compact and sturdy nature, offer more than just shade; they have showy, fragrant blooms that will enhance the aesthetics of the school's surroundings. Additionally, their resistance to most pests and diseases makes them a low-maintenance choice, aligning perfectly with the school's commitment to sustainability. 



Citygreen Urban Greening Consultants are available to sit down with you and explore how we can transform your urban space into a thriving, sustainable, and environmentally friendly environment. Whether you’re a municipality or landscape architect our team is available to design, install, and deliver better outcomes for your trees & stormwater management strategies.   


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Stratavault Empowering Tree Planting in Tamworth CBD

Stratavault Empowering Tree Planting in Tamworth CBD

tamworth fitzroy street stratavault grown trees

Key Facts

Fitzroy Street
Tamworth, NSW 2340


Tamworth City Council

Citygreen PROJECTS

A Vision for a Vibrant CBD

Tamworth is a vibrant regional city located on the Peel River in the middle of New South Wales. Known as the ‘Country Music Capital of Australia’, it is celebrated for its rich musical heritage and hosts the internationally renowned Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth. Beyond its musical fame, Tamworth boasts a diverse and thriving community, offering plenty of country charm.

The heart of Tamworth CBD, Peel Street, is a hub for distant towns and farmers to visit, work and play. During Tamworth's famous week-long ‘Toyota Country Music Festival’ Peel Street is closed to traffic and transforms into a lively pedestrian thoroughfare filled with bustling markets and lively buskers and performer stages up and down the street.

Recognizing the opportunity to breathe new life into adjacent Fitzroy Street, Tamworth Regional Council embarked on a comprehensive revitalization project in December 2017 to help integrate the underutilized street into the CBD and help bring life to the businesses by adding a place for people to congregate with lighting, trees for shade, and street furniture with misting and ‘living umbrellas’.

Tamworth Fitzroy street chinese elm trees in stratavault next to street furniture

Tree Growth Comparison

In 2023, Citygreen conducted a site visit and observed the impressive growth of the Chinese Elms since their planting. Citygreen's Stratavault infrastructure plays a vital role in supporting this remarkable tree growth. By providing an optimal environment with uncompacted soil, the trees can establish extensive root systems within the vault.

growth comparision of tree in tamworth fitzroy street

This innovative design not only prevents root damage to city infrastructure, such as roads and pavements, but also ensures that the trees receive essential water and oxygen. Permeable pavements allow oxygen and rainfall to seep through the pavement into the soil vault enabling the root system to breathe, while a snorkel system with integrated piping is included at the base of each tree.

This system enables Tamworth Regional Council's team to effectively hydrate and manage the trees, even during the frequent droughts experienced in Australia's harsh climate.

fitzoy street comparison from 2015 v 2023

Development of Fitzroy street into a pedestrian focused CBD street.

Benefits to the Community and Businesses

The tree planting initiative in Fitzroy Street has had a profoundly positive impact on the community and local businesses. The once-dull streetscape has been completely transformed into a vibrant and inviting environment adorned with lush greenery. This visual enhancement has greatly improved the aesthetics of the area, creating a more appealing and welcoming atmosphere for residents and visitors alike.

Fitzroy street concept plan

Moreover, the revitalized streetscape has not only enhanced the overall appeal of Fitzroy Street but also positively impacted local businesses. The presence of greenery and the inviting ambiance created by the trees have attracted more foot traffic to the area. 


“Fitzroy Street is now truly part of Tamworth’s busy CBD, and is particularly popular during Tamworth’s hot summers as a great place to take a break while shopping in Peel Street.”

Tamworth Regional Council


As a result, businesses located along Fitzroy Street have experienced increased visibility, footfall, and customer engagement. The combination of natural beauty, shade, and a pleasant atmosphere has made the street a desirable destination for residents and visitors, ultimately contributing to the economic growth and vitality of the local community.

Advantages of Stratavault for the Project

stratavault being installed in fitzroy street tamwoth

Stratavault installed in curved pit


Citygreen Stratavault™ revolutionizes tree-planting projects in urban environments. By maximizing soil volume for tree roots and providing a stable base for roads and pavement, Citygreen Stratavault™ ensures optimal conditions for thriving city trees. With its robust and interconnected module matrix, installation becomes effortless, allowing trees to flourish in even the most challenging environments.

Tamworth Regional Council worked with specialized consultants on the project and their selection of Stratavault for this project was driven by the several key advantages it offered:

Stratavault was selected for this project due to the significant quantities of underground utilities located in Fitzroy Street, which were constrained by significant stormwater infrastructure, water, sewer, power, communications, and gas services. This meant that containing the root systems of any new trees planted was a significant concern, which was alleviated through the installation of Stratavault. As Fitzroy Street was seen as a multi-use development, the two vault sites are also located with the area intended to carry traffic loading during events”

Tamworth Regional Council

stratavault installation in tamworth fitzroy street

Stratavaults innovative design facilitated ideal growing conditions, root containment, and protection of underground services while promoting healthy tree growth. Additionally, its load-bearing capabilities ensured durability, making it ideal for a multi-use area such as Fitzroy Street.

A Commitment to Sustainability

The commitment to sustainability is at the core of the Tamworth Regional Council's vision for the development of Fitzroy Street. Although the initial plan did not include a complete tree canopy cover, the importance of maintaining the shade provided by the existing trees has become a long-term priority for the council.

Tamworth Regional Council recognizes the significance of green spaces and the benefits they bring to the community and the environment. They are dedicated to the greening and cooling of the region, aligning their efforts with their Blueprint 100 strategy. This strategy emphasizes a responsible and sustainable approach to urban development, aiming to enhance the quality of life for residents while preserving and protecting the picturesque landscape Tamworth inhabits


The project stands as a testament to the positive impact of strategic tree planting and sustainable urban development. Through the innovative application of Stratavault, Tamworth's surrounding CBD was able to be better utilized and incorporated into the greater CBD streetscape for a greener, more attractive environment. The project's success is evident in the revitalized streetscape, the community's enjoyment of shaded areas, and the long-term commitment to sustainability.

If you are interested in learning more about Stratavault or would like to talk to one of our Citygreen Consultants about an upcoming project. Contact us below

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Revitalizing Orange CBD

Revitalizing Orange CBD: The Impact of Stratavault Tree Planting

Key Facts

Lords Place
Orange, NSW 2899

November 2022

Orange City Council

Citygreen PROJECTS
Sala4D Landscape Architecture

About the Project

In late 2018 Orange City Council engaged urban designers and architects sala4D to develop a plan for upgrading the CBD.

The last significant upgrade of the Orange CBD was undertaken in the 1990s. Since then, the way people and communities engage with the CBD and retail sectors has changed and evolved. The community asked for more places where they can gather and spend their time in attractive, fun spaces.

tree planting in stratavault soil vault at lords place orange

Project Goals

The concept plan for Lords Place South aims to make the city center more attractive and pedestrian friendly. The proposals include doubling the number of trees, introducing eight raised platforms for outdoor seating and dining, and creating nine new open space areas with trees, shade, and seating. Improved street lighting is planned to boost the nighttime economy.

With these tree plantings the number of car parking spaces in the area would be reduced by a third, from 67 to 44 to accommodate these changes

Artist Rendering of Lords Place, Orange

Artist Rendering of Lords Place, Orange

Project Challenges

Initially, there were 16 trees in Lords Place South; however, due to the new construction, and review of the current trees it was decided that 10 of them need to be removed. Similar to other trees in urban inner-city areas, the existing trees in Lords Place South encounter difficulties as their roots are largely covered by concrete and bitumen. Additionally, being planted in structural soil restricts the growth potential of their roots.

A huge community concern around the tree planting was the transition from a car-focused street to a pedestrian-focused street and the loss of car park space for businesses. Citygreen were able to mitigate the loss of car parking space by double planting of trees diagonally in line with the space of the carparks. These trees share the same treepit, an advantage of sharing the same treepit is that less soil volume is needed per tree overall as there is an overlap in soil use. At completion of the project there is now a total of 28 trees in Lords Place South.

Drone shot of Lords Place Orange, showing stratavault tree planting


The presence of existing underground utilities posed a significant risk to the project. However, with the modular design and large void spaces of the Stratavault system, the matrix can easily be built around utilities with minimal changes to the design; making Stratavault system the ideal solution.

Worker preparing existing underground utilities for stratavault tree planting installation


Why Stratavault?

As part of the FutureCity program, new trees have been planted in Citygreens Stratavault matrix. These soil cells prevent the roots from spreading and causing damage to nearby infrastructure such as roads and underground utilities while providing the tree with optimal soil volume and compaction to ensure ideal growing conditions.

Another advantage of using Stratavault in busy urban areas like Lords Place is that the 100% recycled plastic modules are weight-bearing and designed to be trafficable, meaning cars can park safely alongside the trees without harming their roots. This approach helps minimize the loss of parking spaces, as the trees can be strategically positioned to maximize parking availability along the street. Additionally, the Stratavault Matrixes are connected to the city’s stormwater channels, allowing the trees to thrive by intercepting water runoff that would normally enter the city’s infrastructure and be taken out of the area.

There are a few main benefits when considering this approach:

  • Sustainable water utilization: The connected system allows for the harvesting and utilization of rainwater for irrigation purposes. This reduces reliance on municipal water sources and promotes water conservation.
  • Phytoremediation: Tree roots and soil microorganisms help remove pollutants, sediment, and nutrients from the water, improving its quality.
  • Enhanced urban cooling: As the trees in the Stratavault system receive ample water, they can provide better shade and cooling effects in urban environments. This helps mitigate the urban heat island effect and creates more comfortable outdoor spaces for residents and pedestrians.
  • Stormwater Management: Storage of water in high rain events helps to reduce demand on city infrastructure.

Stratavault Tree planting Citygreen


“It’s a great experience for our city as a whole to understand where the future of tree planting in heavily civil constructed areas can be going with cells in the ground.”

Nigel Hobden,
Manager City Presentation
Orange City Council

Project Outcome

Orange City Council is taking a comprehensive approach to their green-blue urban initiatives, recognizing the valuable role of trees in enhancing the space through aesthetics, mitigating the urban heat island effect with shade and leaf transpiration, and optimizing stormwater management processes by integrating natural processes.

The success of Stratavault soil cells for trees in other locations in Orange, like Kite Street and McNamara Street, demonstrates Orange’s commitment to improving the CBD’s green urban spaces. This ongoing effort aims to attract more residents and workers to the city center while reducing reliance on cars for transportation.

We’re excited to keep an eye on how these trees grow and how the trees will help the CBD evolve the community experience.

Workers Stratavault Tree Planting
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The Amazing Kinsmen Carpark, Edmonton Canada.

Urban Trees for Shade & Stormwater Management at Kinsmen Sports Centre in Edmonton, Canada

Key Facts

Project Location:
Kinsmen Sports Rehabilitation Centre


Project Partners:
City of Edmonton,
Ground Cubed Landscape Architects
HML Construction
Norwood Waterworks/EMCO

Kinsmen Carpark Project Overview

Kinsmen Sports Centre has been operating since 1968 and is located on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River in the middle of Edmonton.  The facility focuses predominantly on sports and fitness training, athletic competitions and events.

The need to upgrade the sports centre was identified by all levels of government to encourage the physical activity and well-being of its citizens and bring the centre up to International standards to increase the exposure of Edmonton on the National and International stage.

During this Construction, Citygreen’s Stratavault was incorporated in the upgrade to the carpark to serve two distinct yet important purposes:

  1. Provide adequate soil levels and soil quality for trees to flourish, grow, & provide shade for the carpark through tree canopy cover
  2. Serve as a water run-off and stormwater catchment area below the carpark itself.

“We saw an opportunity to implement low impact development to deal with stormwater management, but also to ensure that whatever trees were being proposed, had adequate soil volume”

- Natalie Goulet-Sorenson
  Ground Cubed Landscape Architects

Kinsmen workers installing infrastructure in the stratavault matrix

Kinsmen Carpark Project Challenges

In Canada, capturing stormwater is a mandatory requirement for all new constructions, as a means to effectively manage water and prevent a higher level of pollutants from entering municipalities. In recent years there has been a surge of architects, engineers, and planners seeking greener underground solutions that maximize natural resources and landscape.

Citygreen's Stratavault offers a cohesive solution that connects stormwater management with landscape tree design. Instead of stormwater immediately entering the city infrastructure and depleting the valuable water resource by taking it out of area, our Stratashield product directs the stormwater into the Stratavault matrix.

This innovative system allows trees and soil to utilize the water, effectively cleansing it of contaminants before permitting the cleaner excess water to enter the pit's base chamber. This design enables the recycling of water for on-site irrigation & a slower release back into the city's infrastructure during periods of lower demand


click to view full animation

As Eric Keller from Norwood Waterworks highlights

“By planning projects to direct stormwater runoff into soil cells rather than any form of cage or pond, developers would be able to meet any soil volume or stormwater management goals in one easy way versus having to look into several different forms of management”

Kinsmen workers installing stratavault

Choosing the Right Trees for Edmonton's Climate

When selecting trees for a shade canopy in Edmonton's climate, it's important to choose species that are well-suited to the local environment. Edmonton has a continental climate with long, cold winters and short, warm summers, so it's important to choose trees that can withstand these conditions.

For this project, Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) was chosen due to its exceptional qualities as a shade tree in Edmonton, Canada. With its cold-hardy nature and ability to withstand harsh winters, Bur Oak thrives in Edmonton's climate. The tree's wide-spreading canopy provides ample shade for the carpark, shielding vehicles from the sun's heat. Its deep root system ensures drought tolerance, making it well-suited for Edmonton's dry summers. Moreover, Bur Oak is a long-lived species, guaranteeing lasting shade and beauty for years to come for the car park. This native tree also supports local wildlife with its abundant acorns, fostering biodiversity within the park.

Why Stratavault?

For this project, collecting the stormwater was crucial in the overall design, as it needed to account for a 1 in 100 year storm event and the elevated levels of contaminants typically found in parking lot runoff due to the city's winter practices. Snow removal and salting were a concern as the current stormwater system discharged directly into the North Saskatchewan River. Tyson Buckley, Design Lead at Citygreen, highlights the advantages of Stratavault, stating,

“The advantage of using Stratavault over a standard containment tank on a site would be primarily the full-season use of on-site stormwater versus the storm catchment at high rain events.”

The utilization of the soil vault as a dedicated area for tree root growth, in conjunction with its stormwater containment capabilities, presents a holistic approach to site design. By allowing trees to establish healthy roots within the vault, the system enhances overall tree stability and longevity. Simultaneously, the stormwater containment function ensures that excess water is effectively managed, reducing the risk of flooding and preserving the quality of water resources within the surrounding environment.

Additionally, Nolan Halonen, Landscape Architectural Technologist from Ground Cubed Landscape Architects highlighted the following reasons Stratavault was chosen for this project:


  • 100% Recycled Plastic: Stratavault modules are made out of 100% recycled polymer plastic. No virgin plastics are used, leading to a more sustainable outcome.
  • Workability: The structural workability of Stratavault when factoring in the engineering requirements of parking lots and drive lanes exceeded that of other options
  • Void space: Stratavaults 90% void space meant that they were able to achieve the soil volume and stormwater retention requirements with less units
Stratavault being installed at Kinsmen sports centre edmonton canada

Kinsmen Carpark Project Outcome

In conclusion, the outcome of the project showcases the successful integration of tree canopy shading and stormwater management within Kinsman Sports Centre's carpark in Edmonton. This sustainable solution not only provides comfort and protection from the sun's heat but also contributes to water conservation, local biodiversity, and the long-term viability of the carpark infrastructure. By incorporating innovative and environmentally friendly approaches, the project sets an example for future developments seeking to enhance both functionality and sustainability.

Need more trees? Talk to our team.

Kinsmen Carpark Projected completed

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105th Street Edmonton, Canada Green Street Project

The City of Edmonton Strengthens its Core with Green Street Project

Key Facts

Project Location:
105th Street, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Renamed to: Columbia Avenue


Project Partners:
City of Edmonton,
ISL Engineering,
SevenM Construction

Video Case Study Interviewee:
Kyle Wilson & Jeff  Schurek
ISL Engineering,
Cody Mitchell & Chris Payne
SevenM Construction

In September 2016, the second-largest city in Alberta, Canada, celebrated the completion of progressive stormwater management at 105th Street (renamed to Columbia Ave) Edmonton, as part of the Green Street project with the city.



We interviewed the project partners SevenM Construction and ISL Engineering six years after completion to find out about the long-term results and sustainability of the project.
Edmonton’s city limits hold seven sectors, with the mature downtown sector at its core. Surrounding it are six suburban neighbourhoods. Most buildings and infrastructure were built before the 1970s, and the new generation is taking steps to revitalize their city infrastructure and take an active role in stormwater management.

Project Goals

“The city’s primary goals were to revitalize what was formerly a pretty industrial part of downtown,..” said Kyle Wilson, LAT, at ISL Engineering.

“The City of Edmonton identified that the downtown core needed some renovation. It was focused primarily on becoming a walkable corridor that also included bike lanes and focused on non-vehicular transportation,” said Jeff Schurek, Practice Landscape Architect at ISL Engineering.

Upgrades are meant to allow for a flourishing urban forest, in conjunction with a responsibly planned stormwater management system that proves successful “by directing street stormwater into large soil-filled tree pits and draining it through collection pipes at the base of the tree growing areas,” noted Jeff. The ultimate solution for Edmonton’s design challenges was Citygreen’s innovative Stratavault soil cell system.


Project Challenges

The open matrix design boasts unique advantages that present solutions to challenges and considerations like project cost, transport, installation, and the need for green infrastructure and stormwater quality objectives. The cell’s components can nest inside one another and are constructed of lightweight polymers, allowing for significantly lower costs in freight. Once the product is at the installation site, its simple construction doesn’t require unique tools or specialized labour, thus also allowing for a smaller task force.

The Stratavault’s open design allows for the unhindered installation of all necessary subterranean construction, such as water pipes. Even so, with its “quick and simple to assemble” matrix design, the cell system continues to provide the surrounding sidewalks “with sufficient structural integrity to withstand traffic loads,” Cody Mitchel, Project Manager at SevenM Construction, noted.

Project Methodology

The open voids allow tree roots to establish and grow as naturally as possible in the oxygen-rich soil, a thing of the future compared to conventional single-slab planters. These conventional builds have soil too compacted for natural root growth or for rainfall to be properly absorbed and redirected, resulting in unhealthy or dying trees, eroding landscaping, and, ultimately, unnecessary expense in the city’s green infrastructure plans and initiatives.

With 105th Street’s central location inside the city, the active efforts to reduce the damaging effects of unmanaged stormwater levels require large pipe sweeps to be safely integrated into the Stratavault installations. In short, Citygreen’s cell systems offer the city of Edmonton solutions to all the project’s concerns and goals with a single product.

An innovative process “approved by the Stratavault manufacturer” was proposed featuring 200mm, eight-inch water pipes, which could be safely integrated and routed through the cells “with minimal interruption to the structure.” Because the Stratavaults are interlocking and void of bolts or other connectors, individual single-leg sections of the matrix system can be removed for the pipe sweeps, leaving the top layer in place. The sidewalk structure is then reinforced with a bridging section layered on these areas. This engineering modification would not have been as likely with another green technology.

Project Outcomes

Since the project’s onset in May 2015, the first tree pits have been installed and were backfilled with soil quickly and efficiently by Carmack’s subcontractor, 7M Landscaping.

In a final statement on the partnership with Edmonton’s city staff, Biggs reported that the installations are already showing positive results. “This retains the key feature of the Stratavault cell structure – its strength as a connected matrix….” just like the interconnecting streets and communities within the City of Edmonton itself.

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Wynnum Community Centre – Sustainable Carpark Solution

Wynnum carpark2 1 Citygreen

Sustainable Carpark Solution Filtering Stormwater Run-off and Reduces Environmental Impact on Urban Waterways

Key Facts

Wynnum Community Centre
105 Florence St, Wynnum, QLD, Australia

November 2020

Brisbane City Council

JMac Constructions – Brisbane

About the Project

The project’s first stage was to transform the existing main building into a thriving and well-resourced community centre. Before the upgrade, the main building was utilised by various community groups.  However, the off-street parking provided for these groups consisted of a temporary car park in old basketball courts.  To address this issue, Brisbane City Council developed grand plans for the site to serve the community more appropriately.  

Delivered and funded by Brisbane City Council on Turrbal/Yugara-Yugarapul/Jagera Country, the project has vastly improved vehicle and community movements along a busy corridor in the eastern suburb of Brisbane, in Queensland, Australia. Citygreen has been working towards completing the Wynnum Community Centre Project over the last couple of years, which has been a resounding success.

Project Goals

The first and second stage was to develop a shopping centre, which would offer the community access to Woolworths; this centre would also be home to a Council Library and other building spaces for smaller tenancies.  The third stage included creating a small leisure park between the Shopping Centre and the Community Centre. To accommodate the changes and serve the community with more parking opportunities, stage 4 included building a permanent car park for the Community Centre. 

To turn these plans into reality, Citygreen was called on to provide expertise on matters ranging from the design of stormwater drains, sprinkler systems, appropriate placement of sewer connections and the selected tree species.  

Project Challenges

Ed Crouch, Project Manager at Brisbane City Council, said: “One of the conditions for development approval was to install a drainage cell system. The shared conundrum amongst the project team was how the asphalt surface directly beneath a car parking bay would be supported over the Citygreen Stratavault drainage soil cell system.”

The Citygreen Designstudio team engaged its engineers to design and certify this design component, which was promoted as the solution to this problem. Citygreen Designstudio also provided designs for the sprinkler system and reviewed the tree species that would best thrive in the carpark environment.

Another major challenge was achieving the falls for the stormwater. The most accessible stormwater main was on the other side of the site (Florence Street), which meant installing a stormwater line from the proposed permanent carpark down the Community Centre driveway. Also, a condition of the subdivision was a sewer connection had to be made to the surplus block to be sold off.

“Citygreen worked well with Council’s structural and hydraulic consultants to suggest solutions to challenges. Citygreen called on in-house expertise to value-add to recommendations put forward by the project team. The relationship between all the parties was professional. All solutions to challenges encountered were based on a ‘best for project’ philosophy. ” – Ed Crouch, Project Manager at Brisbane City Council

Project Outcome

Landscape elements were prioritized for constructing the permanent car park, which was why Citygreen’s Stratavault™ was chosen for the design. Citygreen’s Stratavault™ is a highly engineered large soil cell installed easily under a car park to enable trees to accept, store and transmit water, nutrients, and energy while giving roots sufficient room to propagate.

The vault’s structural matrix, manufactured from recycled polymers, is designed to provide an optimal growth zone for tree roots where high compressive strength is required and needed to withstand heavy traffic loads. Unlike the usual hardscapes delivered in an urban infrastructure project, the design team developed a car park that was considered the ‘end user’. Citygreen’s Stratavault™ allowed mature Eleocarpus Eumundii specimens to be planted, increasing the visual and physical amenities for pedestrians and cyclists, motorists and the local community.

In addition to managing stormwater, the system is used to harvest roof water for irrigation. By capturing rainwater from rooftops and directing it into the Stratavaults, the system can provide a reliable water source for tree irrigation, reducing the need for city water and providing a sustainable and cost-effective solution.

Water harvesting from rooftops is becoming increasingly popular in urban areas, as it can help reduce the demand for city water supplies and provide a sustainable water source for landscape irrigation. The Citygreen Stratavault system is an ideal solution for rooftop water harvesting. It can capture and retain water while providing a stable growing environment for trees and filtering pollutants from stormwater runoff, improving the quality of the water entering the city’s waterways. By integrating a water harvesting system with the Stratavaults, urban areas can reduce their water consumption and improve the health and longevity of their urban forests.

Ed Crouch, Project Manager, Civic & Building at Brisbane City Council, detailed that the key benefit of using the Stratavault™ system

‘The growth rate of the trees and the water savings capacity and the fact that the technology allows for rapid root growth whilst confining the area of the growth so as not to cause damage to the car park’s asphalt surface’.

Today, the trees in the permanent car park show great signs of continued and sustained growth whilst helping filter pollutants from stormwater run-off. The team at Citygreen look forward to seeing how the trees thrive in years to come.

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“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 -