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The Tragedy of Not Enough Soil

Being in an arctic ecosystem, we have unique challenges here as it relates to urban arboriculture. This photo was taken in 2012 after a windstorm that had swept through Anchorage, creating city-wide tree damage. The image was recently unearthed in conversation, and seemed like a good opportunity to remind folks of the great resources that exist for planting trees in tight spaces. See an elaboration of an in person conversation that never happened in person, as Peter Briggs provides great information on planting trees.

Keegan: Peter, whats this about? I saw this photo, and was told you were the one who captured it!

PB: We had some major windstorms in 2012 that took down a lot of trees around town. While some trees were weak from natural causes, quite a few of them showed signs of poor planting practices. These included improper root ball preparation (i.e. girdling roots or similar), or inadequate planting pit preparation or size. This tree in the College Village neighborhood showed the inadequacy of the available root volume and horizontal dimensions of the planting area.

TK: Dang. The wind did quite a clean demo job. What resources would you suggest for folks when they are planting trees, to help avoid this from happening in their own yards?

Briggs: The first that comes to mind is James Urban and his soil volume graph. But, due to our typically shallow root zones, the ratios can be a bit different in the arctic north.

This short blurb does capture the intent of properly providing soil volume, if not also the idea of matching expected mature growth of a selected species with available volume. Another great resource is the Nashville Landscape Manual, which can be found at this link.

TK: Awesome. Thanks Peter!

Content for this post was supplied by Peter Briggs, Principle at Corvus Design in Anchorage Alaska. Compilation, screenwriting, minor directing, and edits were done by Taylor Keegan at Anchorage Parks and Recreation.

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