Free, research-driven tree and soil details/specifications from the Urban Tree Foundation

This webinar was presented by James Urban, FASLA and Brian Kempf, President of The Urban Tree Foundation, as they discuss the UTF's recently completed specifications and details for planting, planting soil, irrigation, and tree preservation. These complete documents are based on current research, best management practices, and peer-review in each topic area.

In this webinar, Kempf and Urban present the work, discussing:

- Important changes over previously available standard construction documents
- The role of the designer in the project documentation and construction process
- How landscape architects, architects, and engineers can utilize this new tool

Image: DeepRoot / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Three Design Issues that Impact Long Term Health of Urban Trees

Many design issues impact the long term health of urban trees, but three of the most significant aesthetic decisions involve:

1.) The spacing between trees
2.) The size of the tree opening
3.) Water harvesting into soil below paving

This webinar discusses the biological and arboricultural basis for understanding these tree requirements and looks at typical design decisions and how they affect trees and long-term project performance. Critical lessons are shared as well as ways of achieving solutions that meet the needs of the both the design team and the trees, helping to identify necessary changes in design approaches that are needed to create truly sustainable landscapes.

Image: DeepRoot / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Minimizing the Impact of Salts in the Landscape

Landscape architects cannot have a soil chemist on every project and must be able to have a minimum awareness of the issues that surround chemical abnormalities as part of their practice. This webinar addresses: winter salts and soil salts in dry climates, changes in pH as they impact plant health, and chemical levels that are harmful to plants versus levels that are harmful to humans. This webinar aims to inform designers of best practices around chemical applications and help them to understand when they need to be concerned, and when they need to call in the experts. 

Image: Jørgen Schyberg / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Tree Preservation in Dense Urban Sites

Tree preservation in dense urban sites has unique challenges. It is impossible to put up a fence at the drip line and just say "stay out!" Walkways and roads must be built within this area, often close to the trunk, and grading and retaining walls are often required within the tree protection zone. This webinar looks at active construction that can be successfully allowed within the tree protection zone, mitigation tactics that can help, and discusses when to say "stop," when to say "this is too much," when to change the design, and when to take out the tree.

Image: Peter Alfred Hess / CC BY 2.0

The Basics of Designing for Desert and Arid Soils

The soil in desert and arid regions has a number of significant differences from soils in regions with greater rainfall. Urban soils in arid regions may take on some or all of these differences, or they can be reduced or eliminated with hand irrigation and/or soil modifications. Plants are much more adapted to particular soil conditions than they are to climate or geography, although one must understand and respect climate and geography in planting choices. 

In this webinar, James Urban, FASLA, and Doug Merkler, Soil Resource Scientist, discuss desert and arid regional soils, their differences and similarities to wetter regions and to other urban soils, how impacts may be mitigated, and how those differences may impact long-term plant health and water management. For the purposes of this discussion, arid regions will be defined as areas with less than 10" of rain a year.

Image: Kool Cats Photography / CC BY 2.0

Debunking Myths about Urban Trees and Soil

In this webinar, we explore some of the urban myths that twist the reality of urban trees and soils, including (but not limited to) the following assumptions:

- Organic matter in soils needs to be replaced once the tree "uses it all up"
- Sand-based manufactured soils are always better
- Tree grates protect trees
- Urban soils are not usable and need to be replaced
- Contaminated soils harm plants

... and many other myths, partial myths, and common misconceptions that often hinder the design process for projects involving urban trees and soils.

Using Trees and Soils in Urban Stormwater Management

The treatment and storage of urban stormwater is a hot topic in the design professions and increasingly drives large scale design issues. Trees are often seen as a critical part of the design and concept, but the details of bringing together trees, urban soils, and highly controlled water flows requires training and experience that is not typically included in landscape architecture courses. 

This webinar looks at the most frequent mistakes we are making in bringing together stormwater with trees in dense urban areas and explores a set of "first principles" that must be incorporated before the aesthetic part of the design can be developed. 

Specifying and Selecting Quality Nursery Trees

This webinar, based on Jim's article in the April 2013 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine, “The Root of the Problem,” takes viewers through the process and challenges of specifying and selecting quality trees.

One of the most crucial points in the process of designing a project that involves tree-planting is the moment when the specific tree is approved in the nursery for purchase. This decision that can have a far-reaching impact on the long-term success of a project. Yet the specification and selection process is often fraught with miscommunication and inaccuracies, resulting in the selection of low-quality trees.

Jim animates the problem using a variety of images and his decades of expertise to help viewers learn how they can assure better quality trees and other plants for their clients, creating truly sustainable, long-living trees.