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

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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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Stratavault™ by Citygreen Facilitates Hill East Building G’s Revival

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How Citygreen’s Stratavault™ system helped the Hill East Building G redevelopment project transform into a thriving green space

Key Facts

Washington DC, USA

October 2020

Brightview, Bradley Site Design, Donatelli Development, GTM Architects


About the Project

Hill East Building G is a mixed-use low-rise project in Washington D.C. that has been serving as temporary housing for displaced families for many years.

In a bid to put an end to homelessness, the City’s Mayor commissioned a redevelopment project on Hill East Building G. Part of the project involved transforming the area around the building, located on C Street Southeast, from a dull, grey area into a more vibrant green space by integrating numerous healthy trees.

The goal was to provide a more comfortable and sustainable environment for both residents and visitors.

BrightView Landscape Development worked together with urban greenery specialists, Citygreen, to facilitate the optimal growth of healthy trees along the sidewalk of Hill East Building G. Jeremy Clayton, Senior Project Manager, identified the Stratavault™ system as the best solution to support the health of these trees within the paved pedestrian and vehicular environment.

Project Goals

One of the main objectives of the Hill East Building G redevelopment project was to showcase a thriving canopy of trees that would provide an aesthetic appeal, as well as shade, especially during the hotter months of summer.

“It was our goal to provide sustainable solutions and advice around the planting of healthy trees in a new, trafficable concrete pavement. We also aimed to increase the number of street trees within the area,” said Jeremy Clayton of BrightView Landscape Development.

The district administration also recognised that adding an urban canopy would turn the once-dull Hill East campus into a greener environment, giving families a more dignified place to stay until they could get back to a place they could call home.

Project Challenges

As a neighbourhood that was dense with paved roads and large buildings, BrightView Landscape Development found several challenges and restrictions with incorporating a green canopy into Hill East.

The selected greenery to be planted, Platanus Acerifolia (or Exclamation London Planetrees), also posed its own challenges, including its potential to damage sidewalks and infrastructure with root growth if sufficient soil was not available.

“We deemed this project to be a very complicated undertaking. The area had to be excavated very close to the building, and the spoils had to be removed from the site,” Jeremy Clayton stated.

Fortunately, through our innovative solution, both teams at BrightView Landscape Development and Citygreen were able to overcome these challenges and deliver the transformational results that the City Government was seeking.

Project Methodology

BrightView Landscape Development had to find a system that could allow the growth of sustainable green canopies while also protecting the structural integrity of the surrounding streetscape.

After some thorough product reviews and consultation with the Citygreen team, it was determined that the Citygreen Stratavault™ system was the most suitable solution to ensure that selected Exclamation London Planetrees would thrive in the harsh urban environment of the Hill East neighbourhood.

With its highly engineered large soil cell feature, designed to be easily installed under sidewalks, Stratavault™ enables tree roots to grow, absorb and store essential nutrients. Its open matrix design also works to prevent sidewalks, roads and buildings from being damaged by root growth.

“With Citygreen’s Stratavault™ system, we were able to plant Exclamation London Planetrees along Hill East’s streetscape, as well as navigate multiple underground utilities and install strong concrete on top as part of the overall redevelopment project of the community.”

Project Outcome

Citygreen’s Stratavault™ system has been seeing positive results since the project’s completion. The Hill East community, particularly Building G, is now decorated with healthy Exclamation London Planetrees that will soon provide vibrant visual aesthetics and cool shade relief for all residents and visitors.

Not only does this community provide a safe environment for displaced families, but the Hill East neighbourhood now offers a fresher, greener and cleaner space within the urbanised area.

“The installation of Citygreen’s Stratavault™ system progressed slightly faster than we estimated. On top of that, there was no rework necessary, and we were highly satisfied with the overall results,” Jeremy Clayton said.

Thanks to Citygreen’s Stratavault™ system, the Hill East community will soon have a thick canopy of healthy, lush trees that will deliver many environmental and health benefits, making the area more liveable and pleasing for its residents.

At Citygreen, our wide range of innovative urban landscape products like the Stratavault™ system can transform communities just like yours. Speak to our team today to discuss how we can enhance your urban area to make it a greener and more thriving space, just like the Hill East neighbourhood in Washington D.C.

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Maroochydore Smart City Project Utilizes Tree Vaults for Resilience and Sustainability

Future-Proofing and Structural Tree Vaults at groundbreaking Smart City project, Maroochydore City Centre

Key Facts

Maroochydore City Centre, QLD, Australia

June 2017

Sunshine Coast Regional Council

CONSTRUCTION: Shadforths Civil

About the Project

Maroochydore City Centre (MCC) on the Queensland’s Sunshine Coast will be the first purpose-built city in the world designed specifically for driverless cars. A rare greenfield opportunity for developers SunCentral, the city will feature a range of innovative technology including:

  • Internet connectivity of unlimited speed enabled by a giant undersea cable
  • An automated underground, vacuum waste system
  • Automated light poles that respond to changes in natural light
  • Induction-charging roads to enable electric vehicles to stay powered constantly

Project Goals

Entrepreneur and technology advisor, Zach Johnson, said, “We want to build something that doesn’t currently exist. In what must be almost a first in the modern era, we don’t have legacy infrastructure to contend with, we’re building from scratch. We’ve got this greenfield site and that gives us the opportunity to identify what sort of infrastructure is most beneficial to the use of autonomous vehicles — but that’s just one piece.”

Another crucial piece to any successful urban centre is sustainable green space. Sunshine Coast Regional Council completed a successful tree pit trial with Citygreen in Caloundra five years ago and introduced SunCentral to this innovative technology. SunCentral and Citygreen connected, with Citygreen completing a thorough Cost Benefit Analysis for the MCC project.

Project Outcome

The challenge was that the initial design did not allow much room for trees in the sidewalk and road alignment. Trish Menzies, Senior Landscape Architect and Director at Vee Design, felt very strongly about the importance of incorporating green space and altered the design to include a continuous corridor vault where tree pits could go. With a dedicated space set aside, Citygreen completed thorough technical design and construction drawings for the Stratavault system, enabling 61 trees to successfully mesh in with the surrounding infrastructure. With just a few design revisions, SunCentral was happy with the design and constructability.

Construction is currently underway with positive feedback from the contractor, who says Citygreen’s detailed technical drawings have made the process quick and efficient. They’ve also been surprised by how quickly the system is going in – so much so that they’re ahead of schedule. Stay tuned for a full report when this groundbreaking project is completed.



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Urban Tree Growth Unlocked: A Comparative Study of Two Planting Methods Over 10 Years!

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A comparison of 10-year urban tree growth with two different planting methods planted at the same time and at the same location

Key Facts

Bulcock St, Caloundra QLD, Australia

June 2011

Sunshine Coast Regional Council

Dig-It Landscapes

Elaeocarpus obovartus (quandong – 200l)

About the Project

In 1917, Bulcock Street was established as the main street of sunny Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast. One hundred years later, competing against new urban centres, big-box malls and online retail, the rundown street was in decline. In a $12 million four-stage project, Sunshine Coast Council (SCC) transformed the tired main street into a vibrant and liveable community space through the Bulcock Street Revitalisation Project. This project is Australia’s first smart city streetscape demonstration and testing facility, showcasing the latest smart city technologies.

Sian Crawford, the Landscape Architect at SCC, said, “With the Sunshine Coast Council’s Landscape Architects acting in many roles; the client, the project manager, design lead, and project delivery, our challenge was to take the community and organisation on a journey to re-imagine the high street experience through a holistic place-making framework. As Landscape Architects, we listened, learned and shaped the streetscape forms, layout, infrastructure, selected materials and plants species, and collaborated with engineers and artists, as key participants in this process of collective leadership.”

10 Year Timelapse

The above timelapse shows the canopy difference of the same tree species planted at the same time. The only difference? Increased soil volume and quality. 

A good analogy is imagine you're sitting down for dinner and the server brings you your plate and the plate is is 80% rocks. That's what trees planted in structural soil get; out of the available space, 80% is needed to keep the structural integrity of surrounding infrastructure and the tree is left over with a measly 20%; the growth and results of the tree are tied to the amount of resources available to it underground.

So, increasing the soil volume and nutrients available to the tree increases the growth rate of the tree. But that is tough to do in urban environments where infrastructure such as streets, roads, pavements, sewerage, power cables, etc take up a significant portion of underground space. This limitation will stunts the growth potential of urban trees, limiting the environmental, economic, and health benefits trees bring. However, employing innovative solutions like Stratavault will substantially enhance the available rooting area for trees by over 90%.

This revolutionary approach ensures that trees receive a more significant share of resources, promoting healthier and more vigorous growth while maintaining the structural integrity of urban infrastructure.

the difference in soil volume in structural soil vs a soil vault

The difference in space available to the tree.


Download our Stratavault Tech Sheet to understand how we grow better trees in urban environments

Project Goals

Whilst the design responded to the community’s desire for a green street with substantial tree planting and garden areas, the Sunshine City Council was also looking to build a greener and more sustainable town centre. Items that were taken into consideration during the design process included the ability to make the project sustainable in the long term with little to no human interaction.

As such, Citygreen’s Stratavault system, specialist soil mixes, and tree grow-on contracts were utilised in the building out of the project. What stands out about the systems that were put in place is their ability to ensure long-term sustainability for the project.

The capacity to deliver on the promise of long-term sustainability is Stratavault’s ability to harvest rainwater. Meaning not only do the trees take in water during a wet period, but the system is also able to collect and store the water for dry periods.

Therefore, the 35 Elaeocarpus Obovatus that were installed between 2016 and 2018, utilising the Stratavault system can continue to grow and thrive in their environment due to the council’s foresight in installing systems that look after the tree growth at the time of installation as well as into the future.

Project Outcome

“Feedback from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. In terms of the physical outcome, Bulcock Street is now a vibrantly-green, comfortable place to be. Momentum following the streetscape has resulted in a community embracing innovation and activation, with an increased sense of identity and self-determination. Eclectic in character, fun and colourful, the street has evolved into an ‘alternative’ retail experience that appeals to all ages and is unique ‘Caloundra’. Retail outcomes support this, with Caloundra experiencing an increase in the total spending during the 2017/18 financial year of 8% above the 2016/17 results (equating to $39.3 million in extra trade). An overwhelming success, the project was nominated for the 2020 Queensland AILA Landscape Architecture Awards.”, said Sian Crawford.

Images below show the results from the Council’s initial trial – where the same species of trees were planted at the same time, in the same street – with the Citygreen structural vault system (on the left), and with a rock-soil ‘structural soil’ mix, on the right.

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Lawrenceburg Civic Park – Inspiring Downtown Development!


A catalytic urban park paves the path for future downtown development, receiving multiple awards

Key Facts

Civic Park, East High Street, Lawrenceburg, IN, USA

June 2019

MKSK Landscape Architecture

Oberson Landscapes

Lacebark Elm (Ulmus parvifolia)

About the Project

Lawrenceburg Civic Park replaces 1.5 acres of formerly underutilized surface parking with an urban park as a response to the City’s 2014 Downtown Action Agenda.

The plan recommended the development of a “Riverfront Cultural and Entertainment District” connecting the city’s entertainment offerings and local businesses into a cohesive walkable district. The conceptual design of this urban plaza integrates the surrounding cityscape into a catalytic destination for the community.

Informed by a comprehensive community engagement process, the park vision serves the needs of the public and envisions redevelopment opportunities of the surrounding land parcels and has already been a catalyst for growth and development within the downtown.


Project Goals

With the redevelopment of the park, the council was aiming to fill a critical need in the city’s existing public open space, promote the development of the entertainment district, and become a regional destination as an outdoor entertainment venue.

Citygreen’s Stratavault solution was chosen for its ability to maximise soil volumes while supporting an integrated pavement design that was both easy to install and cost-efficient. In this situation where the presentation was of the highest importance. Citygreen’s Invisigrate pave-over tree grate was the answer   –   designed to allow the surrounding pavement to continue right up to the tree trunk.

Concerns regarding future access through the pavement were mitigated through the use of a fully-supported structural vault. Strong, flexible and sustainably manufactured using 100% recycled plastic, the Stratavault system delivers both environmental and cost benefits.


Project Outcome

Citygreen worked closely with MKSK Landscape Architecture and installer Oberson Landscapes, during the design, specification and installation phases. This close working relationship between all parties has resulted in a truly successful outcome – a functional, aesthetically striking and sustainable urban park that has been recognised with multiple awards including:

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How much Soil do Street Trees need?

This question often comes up, in workshops we hold about the urban forest. How much soil do street trees need? Striking the right balance ensures that street trees receive adequate nutrients, space for root growth, and proper water drainage. So what aspects about soil and the underground workings of trees do we have to consider?

Tree Root Systems are Extensive

The first thing to understand is that the root system of a tree is far more extensive than many people realize. In a natural environment, the root system extends as deep as possible in the soil profile, and typically very, very broadly in the upper layer of the soil profile. Wherever there is sufficient oxygen in the soil, and friability in the soil, to support the root growth of the tree – the roots will explore.

example of how tree roots grow

The root plate supports the canopy – but you can’t see it

The root system of the tree provides the structural support for the above-ground canopy, which is the part that we all see. That is a very, very critical function. A tree’s canopy can be very large, is extremely heavy, and is acted upon by the forces of nature – like wind, snow, rainfall etc. Within cities, the power of wind, (sometimes known as wind tunnel effect, or canyon effect), caused by proximity to tall buildings, causes ‘wind-throw’ forces in cities to be much greater than in a forest. So a tree’s root system is critical to anchor the tree physically, and also to support the healthy growth of the above-ground canopy.

A bigger tree requires a bigger soil volume

It’s important that we understand that the amount of soil required is relative to the mature canopy size of the chosen tree species. It’s not related to the size, pot, or box that the tree was grown in at the nursery. The quantity of soil volume that you provide for a tree in the street is all the soil that that tree is going to get – for its entire life. It’s important that the right amount is provided.

Try our Treepit Costing Tool to find the level of soil a tree needs to support itself once it reach maturity level.

illustration show the imagine vs real way tree roots grow

What is a tree coffin?

Historically, trees have been planted in small openings in pavements, sometimes called tree coffins. But this has resulted in catastrophic failure in pavements, and surrounding infrastructure, premature mortality for the tree, or consigning a tree to being stunted for its life if it does live. Walk the streets of any city in the world, and you will see this.  So, it’s critical that the concept of soil volume is understood, if we truly wish to grow a healthy urban forest for future generations. The surprising fact is that with the correct volumes of good quality soil – the benefits can be enjoyed within your generation. The growth rates are astounding – we just need to get the basics right.

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Why is the Treepit area really important?

Tree roots will grow a long way out from the trunk. Many people have had the experience of having an underground sewer or storm pipe penetrated by a tree’s root system, and the tree was growing a long way away, in a neighbor’s property. Trees will grow a long way out from the trunk – in many cases well beyond the canopy area.

What are ‘Deep Soil Zones’?            

The other thing to be understood is the fact that depth of soil is also vital to accommodate the sheer size of the tree root system. For this reason, many cities are now mandating ‘deep soil zones’ for tree planting. This is critical, and is a very good move, to ensure that there is quality soil at a suitable depth, for the life needs of the urban forest As said before, tree root systems will grow as deep as there is adequate moisture, adequate aeration, (oxygen), as well as the essential elements of healthy soil.

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At Citygreen we use Snorkil™ RootRain Urban to ensure oxygen and water can easily penetrate deeper into the soil zone which encourages the tree roots to grow deeper.

snorkil rootrain installed around a tree

How to Calculate the Volume Required for Street Trees?

To arrive at a soil volume for a street tree, one simple rule of thumb is to start with the mature canopy size of the tree. Look up reliable tree resources, investigate online, or speak to the tree nursery, and establish what the mature canopy diameter of the tree species is going to be. Generally, this is very readily available. To what width will that tree grow at its full capacity? Then you turn the diameter into the area, by using the area formula. That gives you the area of the mature canopy (shade). Then you take that area, and multiply it by 0.6x a meter, or two feet in depth, to arrive at a target soil volume. Now, this is a rule of thumb, but it’s a very good place to start. There are other, more complicated formulas – but this is a good place to start.

Another tool we use regularly is the Soil Volume Simulator designed by Elke Haege-Thorvaldson. The soil volume simulator is a great tool designed to give you a rough estimate of minimum recommended soil volume taking in consideration around tree design and height, climate growing conditions, soil suitability, maintenance programs, and expected lifespan of the tree.

You can also review Elke’s recent talk at our event ‘Where the Shade Hits the Pavement‘ where she discusses soil design for landscapes and the soil volume needed.

Finding space for deep soil zones

Rarely is there room in a sidewalk, or a parking lot, or a paved area, for the entire deep soil zone to be an open garden bed. Due to pedestrian access demands, and vehicular movements – there is a requirement for extensive use of hard pavements.  The good news is, there are ways of supporting the pavement while maintaining deep soil zones beneath that pavement. But establishing a correct soil volume for street trees is the first step in establishing a healthy and sustainable urban forest, and there are several ways of arriving at target costing based upon this.

To learn more about how to design and implement a successful urban forest project, engage with an expert here.

installation of stratavault to ensure an urban tree has the correct amount of soil to thrive
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