We've all been there: you're walking, running, or riding bike on a sidewalk only to be tripped up by a tree root bursting through the concrete. As much as you love trees, in that moment you could really use a chainsaw.
Turns out, annoying as that is for you, it's not good for the tree either. That's why one company is working to better incorporate trees into the urban environment, while improving the health of trees.
Big, mature trees define established neighbourhoods in cities such as Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver. But such trees can be scarce in new suburbs, on downtown streets and in neighbourhoods where construction and excavation have left little soil that isn’t compacted.
Often, cities plant new trees in a few cubic metres of poor-quality soil, with predictable results.
“These trees don’t grow – they just sort of stall – and they might put out a little bit of green every year or they get sick and die,” Mr. James says, adding that the average life of a tree in a Canadian city is 13 years.
Using a type of green infrastructure, which the company calls Silva Cells, trees are able to mature and grow deep, healthy roots in loose soil, while better filtering rainwater. Here's an example of a Silva Cell at Vancouver's Olympic Village: